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Top universities for climate action 2023

Explore the top 100 universities for climate action, based on data collected as part of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

    June 1 2023
    Best universities for climate action


    Warnings from environmentalists about the dangers of climate change have become louder and louder over the past few years. If we don’t drastically cut carbon emissions, there could be serious repercussions for the planet.

    Many universities are providing great examples of how to combat climate change through pledging to hit zero carbon emissions, refitting buildings to be more energy-efficient and arming students with the knowledge and skills to make individual changes.

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    The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) look to tackle some of today’s biggest global issues, and one of them, SDG 13, covers climate action.

    As part of the 2023 Impact Rankings, Times Higher Education has produced a ranking focusing on how universities are contributing to climate action. Some of the measures taken into account for the ranking are low-carbon energy use, a commitment to carbon-neutrality and working with local or national governments to address climate change. You can read more about the methodology here.

    Top five universities for climate action

    1. University of Tasmania

    The University of Tasmania scored highly in a range of metrics for the climate action ranking, including for the number of climate action papers published, low carbon energy tracking, the number of local education programmes about climate and its commitment to carbon neutrality. 

    The university’s Climate Futures Research Group works with industry and government agencies around Australia to create projections on the impact of climate change on a range of sectors including wine production and ski resorts. 

    2. UNSW Sydney

    UNSW Sydney is the second university from Australia to feature in the top five for SDG 13. 

    The university has made a range of commitments to tackle climate change, including 30 per cent less emissions by 2025, 50 per cent less emissions by 2030 and to be net zero by 2050. 

    The Climate Change Network is a network of staff and students who hold regular events and activities to combat climate change within the university and the local community. 

    3. University of Victoria

    The University of Victoria has a strategic framework in place outlining the measures it will take to tackle climate change by 2023. 

    One of the measures laid out in the framework is to ensure that students are engaged with the principles of sustainability and have the opportunity to develop their knowledge of sustainable practices. 

    The university has also consulted staff, students and the local community on a climate and sustainability action plan that outlines measurable outcomes for the university’s commitment to sustainability. 

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    4. University of British Columbia

    Since 2010, the University of British Columbia has had a climate action plan in place called Climate Action 2020. Some of the measures laid out in the plan include aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, to use the university as a lab to develop climate change solutions and to take full account for the costs of its decisions on sustainability.

    The university also organises UBC Reads Sustainability, a forum where students across disciplines can discuss issues on sustainability. The forum is part book club, part lecture series. 

    UBC has a website dedicated to sustainability, where students can find out more about what the university is doing to be more sustainable, upcoming events, tips on how to be more environmentally-friendly and student groups on climate action. 

    5. Simon Fraser University

    Rounding off the top five is Simon Fraser University, also in Canada. 

    The university offers more than 230 sustainability courses, and its environmental science programme has been running for more than 25 years. 

    In 2019 the university opened its School of Sustainable Energy Engineering. 

    The top universities for climate action 2023: top 100

    Climate Action Rank 2023 University country
    1 University of Tasmania Australia
    2 UNSW Sydney Australia
    3 University of Victoria Canada
    4 University of British Columbia Canada
    5 Simon Fraser University Canada
    6 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
    7 Western Sydney University Australia
    8 University of Exeter United Kingdom
    9 Université Laval Canada
    10 University of Reading United Kingdom
    11 Manchester Metropolitan University United Kingdom
    12 University of Newcastle Australia
    13 Macquarie University Australia
    14 University of Sheffield United Kingdom
    15 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
    16 Aalborg University Denmark
    17 RMIT University Australia
    18 University of East Anglia United Kingdom
    19 Australian National University Australia
    20 Polytechnic University of Valencia Spain
    21 Bournemouth University United Kingdom
    =22 University of Auckland New Zealand
    =22 University of Eastern Finland Finland
    24 Free University of Berlin Germany
    25 Newcastle University United Kingdom
    =26 Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT Finland
    =26 University of Technology Sydney Australia
    28 University of the Sunshine Coast Australia
    29 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden
    30 University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
    31 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
    32 IMT Atlantique France
    33 Chiang Mai University Thailand
    34 University of Otago New Zealand
    35 Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand
    36 Maastricht University Netherlands
    37 University of Coimbra Portugal
    38 Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya Spain
    39 University of Montreal Canada
    40 Northumbria University United Kingdom
    =41 Lancaster University United Kingdom
    =41 University of Wollongong Australia
    43 Rovira i Virgili University Spain
    44 Tohoku University Japan
    =45 University of Essex United Kingdom
    =45 University of St Andrews United Kingdom
    47 Monash University Australia
    =48 Dalhousie University Canada
    =48 University of Hull United Kingdom
    50 University College Cork Ireland
    51 University of Valladolid Spain
    52 University of Sussex United Kingdom
    53 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
    54 University of Jyväskylä Finland
    =55 University of Bologna Italy
    =55 École des Mines de Saint-Étienne France
    =57 University at Buffalo United States
    =57 Swansea University United Kingdom
    =57 University of the West of England United Kingdom
    60 Cardiff University United Kingdom
    61 University of Plymouth United Kingdom
    62 Kyushu University Japan
    63 Nottingham Trent University United Kingdom
    64 Technical University of Madrid Spain
    65 University of Freiburg Germany
    66 National Pingtung University of Science and Technology Taiwan
    67 University of Liverpool United Kingdom
    =68 Chiba University of Commerce Japan
    =68 New York University United States
    =70 KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden
    =70 Victoria University Australia
    72 Florida International University United States
    =73 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
    =73 Waseda University Japan
    75 University of Barcelona Spain
    =76 Afe Babalola University Nigeria
    =76 Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands
    =76 The University of Western Australia Australia
    79 Trinity College Dublin Ireland
    =80 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
    =80 Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
    82 Charles Sturt University Australia
    83 University of L’Aquila Italy
    84 Ritsumeikan University Japan
    =85 Concordia University Canada
    =85 University of Dundee United Kingdom
    87 Université Catholique de Louvain Belgium
    88 University of Murcia Spain
    =89 Brunel University London United Kingdom
    =89 Pontifical Javeriana University Colombia
    =89 Universiti Sains Malaysia Malaysia
    =89 York University Canada
    93 University of Florence Italy
    94 University of Jaén Spain
    95 EAFIT University Colombia
    96 Technological University Dublin Ireland
    97 Lincoln University New Zealand
    98 National Chung Hsing University Taiwan
    99 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan
    100 Erciyes University Turkey

    View the full ranking for climate action here

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