The University of Newcastle, Australia

Standing for climate action

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

A message from the Vice-Chancellor

On Friday 20 September, Newcastle will be one of many cities to stage a Climate Strike and large numbers are expected to attend. The grassroots movement of young people across the globe demanding immediate climate action is both sobering and inspiring.

100% renewable in 2020 carbon neutral by 2025

Our communities share their concerns. Our recent rounds of community and student engagement delivered us an unequivocal message – environmental sustainability matters above all else and, as a University, we have an important role to play.

Our University stands in full support of climate action.

As announced in late 2018, we will source 100% of our energy needs from renewable sources from 1 January 2020. Our next target is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

Water use is also a priority. Despite significant growth in the number of people on our campus at Callaghan, including full-time residents, our potable water use has remained steady for 25 years.

Our on-campus bush regeneration programs will protect these natural assets for future generations and despite constant pressure around parking, we know we have a responsibility to support sustainable transport use. We have invested in infrastructure to reduce the reliance on cars and to encourage more active and sustainable transport use. This is a long game, but we know it is an important one and we can all do our bit.

These actions are not the limit of our contribution. Our research is also a vital component and we will continue to enhance our efforts, to build on the work we are already doing, particularly through our world-leading Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER). As we look to the next five years at our University, we should also expect to see ‘next generation resources’ intersecting with all our other research domains.

Finally, our role educating tomorrow’s leaders is critical. We have a responsibility to instill a focus on the health of our planet across the breadth of our University. That said, we can see that an enormous number of young people already have this in clear view and are using their voices to make sure others do too. We hear them and will continue to act for their future.

My view is that participation in this or similar events is a matter of individual conscience. Our University community is diverse, and I know that our staff and students have many causes which are important to them.

The University will not prevent staff or students from attending this or similar events, but it is my expectation that anyone taking part must take appropriate measures to have leave approved and to limit the impact of their participation on learning, teaching, research and professional responsibilities.

Professor Alex Zelinsky AO
Vice-Chancellor and President


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