Globe Sustainability Initiative

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The Globe Institute aims to be a leading research department at the University of Copenhagen with a focus on global systems. Such a department must be a key player in Denmark’s scientific response to societal challenges. As the climate and ecological crises continue to be worsened by fossil fuel production and consumption1, as well as human-driven decline of life on Earth2–5, we recognize the urgent need to transition to a fossil fuel-free, ecologically regenerative society, in order to prevent global ecological breakdown6 and avoid societal collapse7–10. We also recognize that this transition is challenging, requiring strong collaboration across people and institutions, and that university departments have a pivotal role to play in it11–15.

 

The Paris Agreement16 provides a framework for nations to deliver a common goal: Limit global warming to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this goal, the next 10 years are key for making our societies free from fossil fuels17. If our society does not rapidly decarbonize within this time-frame, the overwhelming majority of scientific research on climate science predicts irreversible levels of warming in coming decades1,10,18–20, including disruptions in food supply chains, mass population displacements, rising inequality and international conflict8–10,21. At the same time, we are also facing a severe ecological challenge: human-driven extinction of species at rates only comparable to the five largest mass extinctions in the history of the planet3,5,22–24.

The Globe Institute strives to be a front-runner in its approach to the climate and ecological crises. We recognize that historical fossil fuel emissions are unevenly distributed25–27 and that the majority of today’s ecological breakdown is structurally associated with global supply chains that have historically benefitted wealthier nations like Denmark28,29. We therefore have a strong responsibility to take the lead in a science-based transition towards a fossil fuel-free world, creating a safe and just space for humanity to thrive in30,31, in accordance with the UN Sustainability Goals32.

Within Globe, the goal of the Sustainability Initiative is to enable coherent sustainability practices and protocols by using the input from the Globe Sustainability questionnaires and KU Sustainability 2030 (https://sustainability2030.ku.dk), as well as discussions with the LSU, LAMU, the Globe sections and the Globe Leadership Team.

Thus, the Globe Institute is now developing and implementing policies to:

1) Monitor the impact of our daily activities on both our natural (ecological) and physical (geo-climatic) environments to the extent possible,

2) Create awareness of the environmental impact of human actions, including fossil fuel emissions and human-driven ecological deterioration,

3) Reduce our own emissions and our overall ecological impact, in collaboration with KU’s Sustainability 2030 and

4) Carry out integrative research that can enable a societal future based on sustainable and regenerative practices. Our policies are based on the latest scientific research, including research carried out at Globe.

 

 

  1. Zhongming, Z. et al. AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. (2021).

  2. Hill, S. L. L. et al. Worldwide impacts of past and projected future land-use change on local species richness and the Biodiversity Intactness Inde. (2018) doi:10.1101/311787.

  3. Faurby, S. & Svenning, J.-C. Historic and prehistoric human-driven extinctions have reshaped global mammal diversity patterns. Diversity and Distributions 21, 1155–1166 (2015).

  4. Díaz, S. et al. Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change. Science 366, eaax3100 (2019).

  5. Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. (2019) doi:10.5281/zenodo.5657041.

  6. Trisos, C. H., Merow, C. & Pigot, A. L. The projected timing of abrupt ecological disruption from climate change. Nature 580, 496–501 (2020).

  7. Steffen, W. et al. Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. PNAS 115, 8252–8259 (2018).

  8. Ripple, W. J., Wolf, C., Newsome, T. M., Barnard, P. & Moomaw, W. R. World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency. BioScience 70, 8–12 (2020).

  9. Richards, C. E., Lupton, R. C. & Allwood, J. M. Re-framing the threat of global warming: an empirical causal loop diagram of climate change, food insecurity and societal collapse. Climatic Change 164, 49 (2021).

  10. Pörtner, H. O. et al. Climate change 2022: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. (2022).

  11. Green, J. F. Less Talk, More Walk: Why Climate Change Demands Activism in the Academy. Daedalus 149, 151–162 (2020).

  12. Gardner, C. J., Thierry, A., Rowlandson, W. & Steinberger, J. K. From Publications to Public Actions: The Role of Universities in Facilitating Academic Advocacy and Activism in the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Frontiers in Sustainability 2, (2021).

  13. Facer, K. Beyond business as usual: Higher education in the era of climate change. (2020).

  14. Giesenbauer, B. & Müller-Christ, G. University 4.0: Promoting the transformation of higher education institutions toward sustainable development. Sustainability 12, 3371 (2020).

  15. Higher and Further Education Institutions Across the Globe Declare Climate Emergency. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/higher-and-further-education-institutions-across-globe-declare (2019).

  16. Paris Agreement. Report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2015).

  17. Tollefson, J. IPCC says limiting global warming to 1.5 °C will require drastic action. Nature 562, 172–173 (2018).

  18. Lenton, T. M. Tipping positive change. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 375, 20190123 (2020).

  19. Smith, J. B. et al. Assessing dangerous climate change through an update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “reasons for concern”. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106, 4133–4137 (2009).

  20. Allen, M. et al. Technical Summary: Global warming of 1.5° C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. (2019).

  21. O’Neill, B. C. et al. IPCC reasons for concern regarding climate change risks. Nature Clim Change 7, 28–37 (2017).

  22. Humphreys, A. M., Govaerts, R., Ficinski, S. Z., Nic Lughadha, E. & Vorontsova, M. S. Global dataset shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery. Nat Ecol Evol 3, 1043–1047 (2019).

  23. Estrada, A. et al. Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: Why primates matter. Sci Adv 3, e1600946 (2017).

  24. Ripple, W. J. et al. Status and Ecological Effects of the World’s Largest Carnivores. Science 343, 1241484 (2014).

  25. Kenner, D. Carbon inequality: The role of the richest in climate change. (Routledge, 2019).

  26. Hubacek, K. et al. Global carbon inequality. Energy, Ecology and Environment 2, 361–369 (2017).

  27. Gore, T. Extreme Carbon Inequality: Why the Paris climate deal must put the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first. (2015).

  28. Olson, C. & Lenzmann, F. The social and economic consequences of the fossil fuel supply chain. MRS Energy & Sustainability 3, (2016).

  29. Healy, N., Stephens, J. C. & Malin, S. A. Embodied energy injustices: Unveiling and politicizing the transboundary harms of fossil fuel extractivism and fossil fuel supply chains. Energy Research & Social Science 48, 219–234 (2019).

  30. Raworth, K. Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist. (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017).

  31. Singh, P. K. & Chudasama, H. Pathways for climate resilient development: Human well-being within a safe and just space in the 21st century. Global Environmental Change 68, 102277 (2021).

  32. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. United Nations: New York, NY, USA (2015).