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Joining Forces to Tackle Climate Change

The GW4 Universities are taking a lead in promoting collective action against the climate crisis.

Aerial picture of campus with the City of Bath in the background and the rest of southwest england on the horizon
Working with the university community

The GW4 Alliance is a powerful force in the fight against climate change. Their focus on local and regional solutions, long-term partnerships, and strategic vision is making a real impact in the sector. By promoting collaboration among researchers, policymakers, industry, and the public, we are bringing about significant changes that will benefit our planet for generations to come. Joining forces to tackle climate change is crucial, and the GW4 Alliance is leading the way.

GW4: accelerating net-zero solutions

The alliance has supported many projects, such as the GW4 pilot project led by Bath, which investigates Scope 3 measurement and supply chain engagement work and continues to be at the vanguard of the sector. Experts from the GW4 Climate Alliance will utilise the four universities as living labs to experiment with solutions to sustainability issues, with a focus on reducing scope three emissions such as purchases and travel. In addition, the project will prioritise challenges and solutions by increasing student-led sustainability projects and holding Net Zero Transformation workshops with external stakeholders, including local authorities, civil society organisations, businesses, and funders; this alliance has already funded several research communities through the GW4 Generator Fund Awards.

The outcomes of this project will help instruct progressive change within all GW4 campuses. For instance, the GW4 Climate Alliance living labs project supported financing the non-diary milk subsidy for a pilot project and survey work completed by University of Bath's ‘Students for Sustainable Food’ Vertically Integrated Project group.

Academic lead for the project, Professor Pete Walker, said: “The GW4 universities have all agreed ambitious targets to be net zero, which will require transformative ways of working, research, skills training, and engaging students, researchers, operational staff as well as wider stakeholders.”

“In this new GW4 Climate Alliance network, we aim to accelerate this process using a living labs approach to connect climate action and academic work with non-academic activities to help solve major sustainability challenges. Universities have an invaluable opportunity to use our research on campuses and with wider communities to co-create, explore, test, evaluate and implement net zero solutions.

All Universities have committed to work to bring wider societal transformation in response to the climate crisis through their partnerships, and the GW4 pilot project is a great example that demonstrates exactly this. Find out more about this project on GW4's website where you can also access a Living Labs Report from the workshop.

The priorities for Net Zero

The GW4 has four main priorities, including Sustainable Net Zero, which aims to encourage collaboration among researchers, government, industry, and communities to address the challenges faced by different sectors in our region. The programme adopts a whole systems approach and focuses on key themes in which GW4 has internationally competitive and complementary strengths across its universities. These themes include climate modelling, transport infrastructure and mobility, advanced engineering, data and digital innovation, circular economy, integrated energy systems, water systems, health impacts, environmental intelligence, behaviour change, land use and food research, technology, nature-based carbon capture, and just transitions.

The history of the partnership

The GW4 Alliance is a group of four research-intensive universities in Southwest England and Wales. These universities include Bristol, Bath, Cardiff, and Exeter. Formed in 2013, the GW4 Alliance was officially launched at the House of Commons in October 2014 and is funded by our member universities to promote collaboration and innovation. The alliance aims to bridge the gap between researchers, policymakers, industry, and the public. By doing so, we are bringing about significant changes through long-term partnerships through a strategic vision. This climate alliance is leading the way in addressing the climate emergency at a regional level. While climate change is a global challenge, the GW4 Alliance believes that solutions should be implemented at local and regional levels.