Month: April 2022

King’s among top 5 UK universities for environmental and social impact

King’s has placed 5th in the UK and 24th in the world in the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, the only global league table that measures universities’ contributions to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). King’s also retained the top position in this ranking among London universities for the fourth consecutive year.

“At King’s, we believe ‘Our Deeds Define Us’ and we are delighted to see this recognised by a position amongst the top 25 universities in the world in the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. This achievement would not be possible without the dedication of the King’s community who fulfil this commitment in a number of inspirational ways.”

– Professor Evelyn Welch, Senior Vice President (Service, People & Planning)

Our highest SDG in the 2022 Impact Rankings is for ‘Life on land’ (SDG 15), for which we ranked joint eighth in the world, an increase of 31 positions from last year. This places King’s among the top 10 universities in the world for research and education that serves to protect and preserve land ecosystems. Our two other top contributing SDGs were ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ (SDG 11), and ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ (SDG 12).

King’s improved our score on 13 out of the 17 SDGs, ranking among the top 50 universities in the world for 13 SDGs, which demonstrates the breadth of the university’s environmental and social impact. King’s also jumped over 65 places for ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ (SDG 7), and more than 40 places for ‘Gender Equality’ (SDG 5) and ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ (SDG 6).

Find out more here.

Dive into King’s Spotlight on Sustainability podcast

The new series of the Spotlight on Sustainability podcast has landed! In this series, Emily and Abigail will be exploring “Building sustainable communities”. 

Episode 1: How can universities be more inclusive to migrants? With Ria Patel 

In this episode, Ria Patel, founder of the KCL Undoing Borders campaign, Co-Chair of LGBTIQA+ Greens and External Relations Officer for Greens of Colour, talks about the KCL Undoing Borders campaign. This campaign aims to tackle the hostile environment against migrants at universities.  

Episode 2: Why does Equality, Diversity and Inclusion matter? With Sarah Guerra 

In this episode we are very lucky to be joined by Sarah Guerra, Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at King’s to explore what EDI is, why it matters and how you can help make your community accessible for all.

You can access the podcast on Spotify here. We would love to hear your thoughts on this episode; get in touch via the email sustainability@kcl.ac.uk. 

Happy Earth Day 2022!

Happy Earth Day 2022!

This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, and our livelihoods.

For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.

EARTHDAY.ORG

Check out the images below to see how the King’s community has come together to engage with the climate crisis, developing innovative and inclusive solutions. Sign up to these initiatives here.

 

Also have a look at this recent research, co-authored by King’s Geography’s visiting professor Sampurno Bruijnzeel, which explores the importance of restoring native forests for greatest climate and environmental benefits – but this comes with trade-offs for wood production. 

Cycling in London event & survey

Two photographs showing a bike mechanic looking at a bicycle in the courtyard of Bush House.On 3rd March, a cycling event was held at Bush House as part of Sustainability Month to increase awareness and understanding of how students and staff can get started with cycling in London.

The event consisted of a “Dr Bike” session, where external bike maintenance mechanics provided free bike health checks, advice, and small fixes (fully funded by Westminster City Council).

Students were also on hand to provide information to help others get into cycling, particularly focusing on commuting to campus. They discussed where the bike lockers are on campus and how to access them, information offered by external organisations (for example, TFL cycle safety pages and relevant council pages for cycle buddy schemes), and KCL’s Cycling club.


Two photographs showing a bike mechanic looking at a bicycle in the courtyard of Bush House.

The COVID pandemic forced us to rethink how we travel to campus. Cycling was identified as being a safer, more sustainable mode of travel that also supports wellbeing. King’s is keen to support our ‘new ways of working’ so identifying where improvements to cycling provisions need to be made is central to that.

To help us identify what those improvements might be, please could you take this 5-minute survey by 17 May? Your responses will shape how we grow the estate to meet everyone’s needs. Please direct any queries to Ruonan Zhang.

The Careers & Employability Festival starts next week!

How does sustainability tie into a career in healthcare or arts & entertainment? What jobs lie in the environmental sector?

Join this Careers & Employability Festival to hear from professionals who studied subjects from clinical medicine to museum studies to geography and are now part of the Greener NHS Programme, own sustainable fashion businesses, work in climate finance, renewable energy, and more. They will be discussing how they incorporated sustainability into their careers.

Sound intriguing? Find more information and sign up here.

12 April: Be a sustainability changemaker in any and every career.
14 April: Assessing your future organisation’s commitment to sustainability.
26 April: Build your employability for a sustainability career.

Community Garden week at King’s

It’s King’s Community Garden week!🌳

King’s Community Garden (Guy’s Campus) was setup by Oli Austen – Sustainability Champion and senior technical officer in the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine.

Oli set up the space as gardening is a great way to connect with nature (especially for city dwellers), and evidence for the positive impact of gardening is always growing. A report by the King’s Fund in 2016 found many health benefits of gardening, including significant reductions in depression and anxiety. The Royal Horticultural Society website also lists advantages such as improving cardiovascular health and promoting a healthy diet🌸

Since its creation the garden has been tended to by undergraduate and postgraduate students, professional services staff, academics, technicians and KCLSU staff🌱

You can get involved with the community garden in the future by emailing oliver.austen@kcl.ac.uk.

Why is there a lack of renewable energy use in the UK?

This guest blog comes courtesy of Marco Hacon, the Energy Team’s Sustainability Champion Assistant. 


I recently worked with the team behind King’s sustainability module on the section on energy. 

Side note: If you haven’t heard of it, where have you been? For those of you that haven’t seen it, it’s a great open-access resource that brings interdisciplinary knowledge from both students and staff. Don’t be put off if you don’t have any understanding of sustainability, the module aims to provide something for everyone. So, even if you have a strong knowledge base, it covers a lot of areas; you’re guaranteed to learn something new. Check it out here.

Anyway, as part of my research for it, I learned that in the UK (as of December 2020), renewable production generated 40.2% of total electricity produced in the UK; around 6% of total UK energy usage. This last number surprised me. The 2020s are supposed to be the decade of green action with the UK having a strategy in place for decarbonising all sectors of the economy to meet a net-zero target by 2050. So it made me wonder: why is there a lack of renewable energy use in the UK? Well, here’s what I found out:

First, the UK has a regressive approach to funding low-carbon transitions. The energy is currently being funded by levies on the energy bills of consumers. As it stands, 27.9% of energy bills go towards the construction and maintenance of energy infrastructure. Consequently, those who spend more on energy bills relative to their income contribute more to the low-carbon transition. Let me be clear, as I’ve expressed in another blog post, this has not caused the current energy price crisis. But, as prices rise with the increased cost of living, if these bills cannot be met, the transition will be held up. There’s nothing just about that. 

As a result, the UK sector doesn’t receive enough support to produce and manage energy. According to data from the Office of National Statistics released on the week of the 14th of February, the UK’s low-carbon and renewable energy economy has failed to grow since 2014. In the same period, employment in areas such as manufacturing low-carbon technology, energy supply and construction has actually dropped by 28,000 and is currently roughly 207,800. Particularly concerning is that areas such as onshore wind and solar energy, which are essential components of a low-carbon energy mix, have been hit the hardest. It would be easy to place blame at the door of Coronavirus, but it looks like businesses in these areas were struggling in 2019. Even in relation to offshore wind, the UK’s flagship renewable source, energy production isn’t as high as might be hoped. Despite historically high energy output from wind farms in Scotland, the UK generates less than its counterparts in Europe.

Another reason that the UK is struggling to increase renewable energy’s contribution is storage. With much renewable energy being reliant on weather conditions, inter-seasonal storage remains a core challenge for the industry (and not just the UK). As such, there needs to be a lot of investment in energy storage. Lithium-ion batteries are expected to dominate the storage boom. On this front, the UK has started to invest. It has been recently announced that one of Europe’s largest battery storage facilities is set to be built in Scotland and is due to be operational in 2024. The Green Battery Complex will comprise two 400 MW facilities, each providing 800 MWhrs of energy storage capacity. However, capacity is measured in hours instead of days or weeks. As a result, looking forward, the UK would be wise to invest in other energy technologies such as green hydrogen, ‘gravity’ storage, and ‘cryogenic’ batteries.

In terms of other things the UK must consider when looking to the future, it must place localism at its heart, promoting community energy developments and supporting households. This is both in terms of reducing energy waste such as insulation as well as initiatives like solar panels that reduce the need for grid-supplied energy. 

Correction from previous blog post.

In a blog post from 2021, titled “King’s Energy: The Noor Ouarzazate Solar Complex”, the author outlined that it would take 116.5 Noor’s to supply the world with renewable energy based on 2019 demand. The actual number is 116.

Thank you to Assoc. Prof. Johan Montelius from Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) for identifying this and bringing it to our attention.


Photo of Marco HaconMarco Hacon is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Environment, Politics and Development here at King’s. Before this, he worked in a few start-ups and scale-up companies with social purposes, where he gained a basic understanding of sustainability. He is a strong believer in a just and equitable clean energy transition. He is excited to write about this as well as more King’s-related energy topics for the team’s blog. He also wants to help develop toolbox talks for King’s staff and teams that centre on how to use energy sustainably.

An update from Jone de Roode Jauregi, King’s Climate Action Assistant

Hi all!

Photo of JoneMy name is Jone and I am a Climate Action Assistant in the Sustainability Team. I graduated from King’s with a BSc in International Management in May ’21 and have been working in the Sustainability Team since. 

My journey with the Sustainability Team started in my final year at uni when I joined the King’s Climate Action Network. It was a great experience working together with people from across King’s and brainstorming actions to make King’s more sustainable – both on- and off-campus. 

It was also during this year that I got the opportunity to learn more about sustainability in my studies, for example through the interdisciplinary Sustainability in Practice module and by writing my dissertation about sustainable behaviour during COVID-19. I also did a year abroad as part of my studies, during which I spent 5 months studying in Brazil and 5 months doing a climate diplomacy internship at the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica.  

Sustainability considerations play a big role in my personal life too. My diet is largely vegan, I mostly buy seasonal and local products and I rarely waste food; I travel as much as possible by train (e.g. from London to my family in the Netherlands or Spain) and I cycle in London; I buy in zero-waste stores when I can (e.g. at the food co-op Fareshares near Elephant & Castle which is run by volunteers); I limit the number of purchases I make (reinventing my grandma’s clothes was a great exercise); I switched to a renewable energy tariff; I use water, electricity and heating sparingly; I’m changing banks to a more ethical one; I raise the sustainability topic with friends and family, sometimes sign petitions and join marches, and I vote for parties which prioritise addressing the climate crisis and other SDGs, etc. For me, the key part lies in doing as much as I can to contribute to a better world through my individual actions, without restraining myself in such a way that it burdens me disproportionately. 

In my role as a Climate Action Assistant, I have been supporting the development of the university’s Climate Action Plan, the running of the King’s Climate Action Network, the creation of the KEATS sustainability module and seminar series, and the mapping of climate education and research across King’s. I also support the Sustainability Team’s comms and I look after our blog and newsletter. And I jump in here and there when things come up. 

I’ve been enjoying the work so far and I am excited to work on many more sustainability projects with the King’s community. I do not know yet where the future will take me, but I am keen to contribute to finding ways to live more sustainably taking better care of both people and our planet.