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South West College contributes to new UK-wide ‘flagship report’ on accelerating the path to Net Zero in the Tertiary Education Sector

South West College is the only Northern Ireland based institution to contribute to the report released by The Royal Anniversary Trust.

The Royal Anniversary Trust today (Monday 23rd January) released ‘Accelerating towards Net Zero’, an ambitious roadmap for carbon reduction in the tertiary education sector. The report takes a detailed look at the sector’s carbon emissions, and target areas for emissions reporting and reductions and offers a series of 14 recommendations to the UK Government and priorities for the sector that will accelerate progress towards Net Zero achievement.

As a recipient of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2022, South West College joined 20 other further and higher education institutions from across the UK to develop and deliver this report as part of a year-long research project – The Platinum Jubilee Challenge.

Speaking about the report, UK Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:

“The fight against climate change is one we will only win if we all work together. The UK’s world-leading higher education and further education sectors are creating a pipeline of talent to fill the key skills gaps that will be vital to our national response to climate change. Institutions from across the UK are working together towards our common goal to be net-zero and I am hugely grateful for their work to date.

“I also want to thank the Royal Anniversary Trust for their recommendations to both the sector and Government. These will be carefully considered and we look forward to responding formally later this year.”

Reflecting on the report’s publication, Celine McCartan, South West College Chief Executive added;

“South West College has been a leading educator in Sustainable strategic development and practice for many years and it is at the heart of our curriculum and operations. The recognition of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2022 was clear validation of this work from the highest level and we have been truly honoured to represent Northern Ireland over the past 12 months on The Platinum Jubilee Challenge.”

“We believe this report can be transformational for the tertiary education sector and will provide us with a better understanding of how we monitor, report and reduce our carbon emissions as efforts to reach Net Zero are intensified.

In addition to the recommendations made to government, the report includes a series of asks in terms of changes to the built environment curriculum, encourages the reduction of non-essential travel and the prioritisation of low-carbon travel. The report advises on the adoption of sustainable procurement standards and policies and asks that individual institutions build the internal skills and resources necessary to speed up their journey to Net Zero.

Eimear Grugan, Sustainability Manager at South West College who participated in The Platinum Jubilee Challenge said;

‘I am delighted that this report has now been released which illustrates the collective thoughts and desires of the institutions who were invited to take part in this initiative. On a personal level being invited to take part has been an incomparable experience which has refocused my own thoughts on the practice of sustainability within South West College and what more we can do to becoming a Net Zero college.’

Following the publication today of the report it is expected that a response to the recommendations made will be received by Government Ministers before 28th March 2023. The report and recommendations are now available to read at

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