Climate emergency


Bristol was the first UK university to declare a climate emergency, and we’re committed to taking action on climate change.

Eco-consciousness and sustainability run deep at the University of Bristol. Through studying, research and extracurricular work, our students and staff share a commitment to protect our planet, and the drive to take bold action.

The University has divested from fossil fuel investments, pledged to become a net carbon neutral campus by 2030, and invested £10 million in energy-saving technologies – and we’re not slowing down.

The University of Bristol plays a key role in fighting climate change. Calling a climate emergency highlights the urgency of the task we are engaged in and I hope others join us in increasing their action on this, the biggest challenge we face.

Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost

Cabot Institute for the Environment

Much of Bristol's world-leading environmental research and climate expertise is gathered together in the Cabot Institute for the Environment. 

This interdisciplinary research institute brings together more than 600 experts, united by a common cause: protecting our environment and identifying ways of living better with our changing planet.

The Cabot Institute has:

  • Made fundamental contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the international Conference of Parties (COP21), which shape how governments understand and respond to climate change.
  • Developed a flood modelling system used by the Environment Agency, and provided global flood analytics to the aid sector.
  • Provided expert input to the UK’s first citizens’ assembly on climate change.
  • Contributed technical expertise to support Bristol in its ambition to be a carbon-neutral and climate-resilient city by 2030.
  • Produced the UK’s first city-level Voluntary Local Review of the Sustainable Development Goals, helping Bristol to be more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.‌

Public engagement in the city

The city of Bristol shares our commitment to tackling climate change, and the University works closely with local organisations and communities.

In response to the climate emergency, Bristol academics have taken part in the city’s Youth Global Climate Strike and shared their expertise with activists at Extinction Rebellion events. The Cabot Institute has also founded a public engagement network to engage school students with environmental issues.

The Uncertain World mural on Woodland Road, a collaboration between local artist Alex Lucas and the Cabot Institute

Volunteering for action

There are countless ways for students to contribute to environmental initiatives within the University and the city of Bristol.

You could help shape our policies by joining the University's Sustainability Team or the SU Sustainability Executive Committee. Work with Climate Action Bristol, which places student volunteers with local organisations to develop and implement Climate Action Plans. Or join one of the many societies and action groups campaigning on environmental and social challenges.

Check out some examples of our students’ impact.

Sustainability in your degree

Bristol offers a range of undergraduate courses for students interested in climate change and environmental science, many of which include a research project. Several undergraduate projects and essays have been published in top peer-reviewed journals.

As well as these courses, the University aims to offer sustainable development education to all students – whatever your academic interests. Currently, 85 per cent of undergraduates have the opportunity to study some aspect of sustainability as part of their course, and we are working to further improve this.

Find out more

Explore for yourself

If you want to dive deeper into environmental science or policy with your degree, you might be interested in studying:

Beyond undergraduate study, Bristol offers several specialist master’s degrees including the MSc in Global Environmental Challenges.

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