University College Cork (UCC) has set sector leading targets in its ambitious sustainability and climate action plan, launched today by Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath TD.
UCC is aiming to become a zero waste campus by 2030 and a carbon neutral campus by 2040. The five-year plan sets out 62 concrete actions that the university is committing to undertaking over the next five years working across the whole institution to reduce its environmental footprint.
The UCC plan also sets out its engagement plan with local authorities and the community on sustainability with UCC intending to develop a programme with Cork City Council that will assess green space use and promote wild areas, green space and food growing initiatives.
Setting sector leading targets
UCC President Professor John O’Halloran said: “We have set ambitious target as time is simply running out. We need to work harder and faster to for the future of this planet and our students. The higher education sector must act to inspire change and through our research and learning and teaching we will work to help lead that change.”
Hayley O'Connell Vaughan, UCC Students’ Union Communications and Engagement Officer, said: “Student activists have always been the key driving force behind sustainability practices in UCC. From our Green Flag to the roll out of the ‘Plastic Free UCC’ initiative; without students these initiatives would not have been possible. It is imperative that we continue to listen to and support students in their work as we make strides towards a better and more sustainable future for all, starting right here in UCC.”
Eliminating 300,000 plastic cups from campus
Earlier this year, UCC went plastic free on campus eliminating the waste of 300,000 paper cups and UCC also established the first Sustainability and Climate Action office in Ireland’s higher education sector.
“By working with our students, staff and wider community we have already demonstrated that we can transform our operations for the good of the environment. We know we need to do more and this plan charts our pathway to becoming a truly sustainable university,” said Dr Maria Kirrane, Head of Sustainability and Climate Action Office, UCC.
Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir, Associate Vice-President for Sustainability at UCC and Director of UCC’s Environmental Research Institute, said: “This Plan lays out our pathway to becoming a carbon neutral campus, and commits us to undertaking a measurable, science-based approach to get there. We also commit to driving emissions reduction outside of UCC by informing policy, supporting business and empowering society through our engaged research on climate action where we co-produce solutions with others.”
UCC is internationally ranked as a global leader in the field of sustainability. The university is ranked 7th in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking and is ranked 46th in the world for sustainability in the QS World University Rankings.
UCC recently launched UCC Futures Sustainability, a programme of research prioritisation coupled with an academic recruitment, and UCC research is also now focused on the global grand challenges as identified by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.