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Decarbonise Newcastle – students lead the way to net zero

Students have been challenged to take a lead in Newcastle’s efforts to decarbonise the city by 2030.

More than 130 young people attended the virtual Newcastle Student Climate Change Summit, to discuss ideas for tackling global warming and find out more about the opportunities that come with rising to that challenge.

Professor Julie Sanders, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost of Newcastle University, said: “Young people’s voices and student activism has been generative of so much positive action around the climate emergency so it is truly wonderful to have this event taking place.

“Through our students’ ideas, learning and group work, there is the opportunity to coproduce tangible, solutions-led thinking to make Newcastle and the region a sustainable, just and inclusive place to live, work and study for the long term.”

Speakers at the summit, which was held virtually due to ongoing Covid restrictions, included representatives of Newcastle and Northumbria universities who talked about both institutions’ commitment to climate action.

Officers of the city’s two students’ unions, along with sustainability specialists, then covered the existing work and opportunities for young people who are studying to help tackle the climate emergency.

Invest Newcastle offered an overview of potential careers in the new green economy, and how, as a major centre for the renewable, offshore and subsea energy industries, with world-leading research and development facilities, and over 5,000 energy related businesses, employing around 30,000 people, this is one of the best places to be to capitalise on that.

And there were contributions from staff at NE1, Newcastle Hospitals Trust, utility company Engie, and global financial institution The International Finance Corporation.

Cllr Clare Penny-Evans, Cabinet member for communities and climate change, who led a discussion of how “every action helps” said: “What we need is for everyone in our city to accept that it is our collective responsibility to tackle this, get involved, see the bigger picture, and aim high.

“But that doesn’t have to be all in one go – Taking that first step is the most important.

“Make clear, positive change – Start small, build from there and together we can really start to solve this problem for the benefit of everyone.”

Following the summit, many of those who attended are taking part in the week long Net Zero Innovation Challenge, which sees teams of students with a range of knowledge develop ideas for pragmatic, achievable measures that can have both meaningful impact on our carbon output, and be delivered in Newcastle.

We encourage our partners and supporters to share their examples of good practice in tackling the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse and delivering a just transition. NEECCo does not undertake to quality assure these case studies, and inclusion of a case study on this website does not imply endorsement of the project by NEECCo or by its partners.

Some case studies will feature organisations who are involved in fossil fuel industries, or who are open to challenge on other aspects of their performance in relation to our objectives. NEECCo recognises that if we are to reach our ambitious objectives, all organisations and individuals within the north east will need to adapt their behaviour and actions. We want our case studies to encourage this process. Our commitment to achieving a just transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy requires us to encourage positive steps wherever they are to be found. 

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