Inverness College signs up to Race to Zero global initiative

Inverness College UHI has joined Race to Zero, a global campaign against climate change, and pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2040.

The Race to Zero is a UN-backed campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

Working in partnership with its staff and students, work is now underway to create a new sustainability strategy which will set out the College’s plan to reach a range of short, medium and long-term targets to reduce carbon and its environmental impact in innovative ways.

The strategy will look at sustainability across the organisation from leadership and governance; to learning, teaching and research; estates and operations; through to partnerships and engagement.

In 2019, the College, in partnership with the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association in Inverness, formally recognised and declared a climate emergency. Since then, the College has made steady progress in responding to the climate crisis, reducing its waste and increasing recycling/composting. A feasibility study is underway to identify new, energy generation opportunities on campus, while electric vehicle charging stations are due to be installed in the College's car parks at Inverness Campus and the Scottish School of Forestry later this month.

The management team has also pledged to positively support research that enables improvements in sustainable/zero carbon practices, particularly in rural communities; advocate teaching that reflects and promotes debate and development of learning around sustainability; and ensure that the financial sustainability of the organisation is not at the expense of the environment.

Professor Chris O’Neil, Principal and Chief Executive of Inverness College UHI, said: “We understand the responsibility we have to our communities to influence and encourage sustainable behaviours and to take decisive action to respond to this climate emergency. We’ve already started to make changes, but we know there’s work to do in achieving the carbon-free future we all want. Students must be at the heart of this strategy, and we’ll be working with the Highlands and Islands Students’ Association to mobilise our student population, who, along with staff, care deeply about climate change and want to help shape our future.”

Ruth McFadyen, HISA Inverness President, said: “Our sole purpose is to help students, so we are happy to be on board with Race to Zero and promote changes – helping students to help the Earth. Being a part of this strategy will enable us to not only focus our attention on non-polluting behaviours, but it will also help us to be a part of a new way of working and studying in an eco-friendly manner alongside the College.”