UKRI launches its first environmental sustainability strategy

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UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has launched its first environmental sustainability strategy, setting out its ambition to achieve ‘net-zero’ by 2040.

The strategy sets out the organisation’s priorities to lead the way in environmental sustainability across the research and innovation sector, following the UK government’s commitment to end the country’s contribution to global warming by 2050.

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UKRI, commented on the announcement: “We are proud of UKRI’s contribution to understanding global environmental sustainability challenges.

“We are at the forefront of finding solutions to these challenges.

“So it’s vital that we are also ambitious in ensuring UKRI-funded research, innovation and operations minimises its impact on the environment.”

UKRI invests in the research and innovation that is essential in understanding and tackling the environmental challenges that we face, including climate change and plastic waste pollution.

This research is critical in supporting the UK achieve the goals set out in the government’s Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy, the 25-year Environment Plan and devolved policy to reach ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions within 30 years.

The Sustainability Strategy ensures that as well as funding this critical work, UKRI also aspires to be net-zero for its entire research undertaking, including reducing and mitigating all carbon emissions from owned operations, and looking beyond carbon to ensuring its wider environmental contribution is a positive one.

The development of the strategy has been informed by an extensive engagement process involving internal and external stakeholders.

UKRI also engaged with leading environmental sustainability experts from across a range of sectors to inform the development of an ambitious set of objectives and targets.

The strategy came into force on the 1 April 2020.

It’s first objective focuses on a set of priorities for action that UKRI will take in the next five years, through to 2025, as well as laying out some of its longer-term ambitions, including its net-zero commitment for 2040.