About the climate strategy

 

In April 2020, Aarhus University's first climate strategy was decided. The strategy applies from 2020 to 2025 and sets clear goals and frameworks for the work of working with AU in an even more climate-friendly way. Read the Strategy (PDF).

On this page, you can read more about the background for the strategy and find answers to some of the questions asked about it, both during the consultation process and generally. 

Facts about the strategy

  • A working group of staff (academic and technical/administrative) and students contributed to the climate strategy 2020-2025. The final version was drafted on the background of discussions in the senior management team and university board.
  • Staff and students had an opportunity to comment on the draft version of the strategy through an internal consultation process. The strategy was approved by Aarhus University’s board on 1 April 2020. Read more here
  • The strategy contains an ambitious goal to reduce CO2 emissions from the university's operations. 
  • Read more about Aarhus University's climate strategy here. 

The consultation process in brief

Generally speaking, the consultation responses were characterised by: 

  • Support for the content of the strategy and its level of ambition. 
  • Support for the strategy’s overall goals.
  • Support for AU’s intention to achieve its goals through changes in its own practices as well as through influencing external processes.
  • Strong support for AU taking the lead as an organisation. 
  • Attention to the contradiction between increased internationalisation and the reduction of air travel.  
  • Support for the university’s goal of contributing to solving the climate challenges from a broader social perspective through its core activities.
  • Positive reaction to the clarity and ambition of the strategy’s goals, which include annual greenhouse gas emissions reports and emphasise student and employee involvement.  

Read consultation responses on Aarhus University’s climate strategy 2020-2025.  

 


FAQ on Aarhus University's climate strategy:

Why has AU not adopted a climate strategy until now? After all, the climate has been on the agenda for a long time?

Answer: AU has been working with sustainability for some time. It’s an integrated aspect of the university’s degree programmes and research activities. And AU has been conscious of the importance of making sustainable choices in relation to its operations for a long time. For example, AU has already achieved major reductions in energy consumption in its buildings.

 

At the request of AU's board (back in December 2018) and on the basis of open climate letters from both researchers and students to the universities in Denmark, Aarhus University now has a focused and ambitious climate strategy that sets clear goals and frameworks for AU's green development. 

In what way is the strategy ambitious?

Answer: First, the strategy lives up to the Paris Agreement and the Danish government’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 70% in 2030 against a 1990 baseline. Second, the climate strategy sets the goal for AU to become carbon-neutral in 2040, that the university is to reduce its climate footprint from air travel by 30 per cent, and for reductions in carbon emissions associated with the goods the university purchases.  

Why does the strategy only cover operations?

Answer: Researchers and students at AU are already working with sustainability within many different disciplines and have been doing so for a long time. A survey of how sustainability is included in our degree programmes is being prepared, and AU also has several interdisciplinary centres that work on climate and sustainability.

But in addition to a focus on sustainability in its core activities, research and teaching, the university also needs a stronger focus on sustainable operations. This is why a strategy focussing on operating the university in a more climate-friendly way is necessary.   

How will students and employees be involved?

Answer: The university has a number of ideas about how the goals in the the strategy can be achieved, but not all of the solutions are known yet. They must be discovered together with the university's staff and students, for example through research, projects and Master's theses. It’s crucial that employees, students and employees help each other. We will all have to change our habits and behaviour, and we will all have to keep in mind that there is often a more sustainable alternative.

The faculties and the administration must draw up concrete action plans to achieve the goals and sub-goals of the strategy. The university's senior management team encourages everyone to contribute if they have good ideas/input. Contact your immediate supervisor or write to sustainability@au.dk.  

Where is responsibility for implementing the strategy located, and where will the funds and resources for the implementation process come from?

Answer: Annual action plans will be prepared to monitor progress in reaching the goals outlined in the strategy. The plans will assign responsibility for carrying out planned activities. The activities which make the most significant contribution to carbon emissions reduction will be given a high priority, along with activities that can be implemented quickly. As a general rule, the unit/division responsible for an activity will bear the costs associated with it. 

A Sustainability Team has been established to support the strategy process and implementation, including the preparation of annual greenhouse gas emissions reports as well as the development of action plans. 2.5 FTEs have been allocated to this work. 

How will the university ensure support and collective solutions so that sustainability doesn’t become the responsibility of the individual employee?

Answer: Aarhus University will look at what structural changes we need to make centrally, such as sorting waste into more fractions and purchasing less carbon-heavy products, and at what local initiatives we can start to support employees and students in making climate-friendly choices.

Both central and local action plans will be developed, and these will serve as a guide for the work with the strategy and will help to ensure that the goals of the strategy are met. In addition, guides that contain good advice on how employees and students can make sustainable choices in their daily lives at AU will also be produced. 

Questions  

 If you have any questions, please feel free to send an email to Sustainability@au.dk.  

Responsible investment policy

The aim of the policy is to ensure that the university’s equity and liquid funds are invested in a way that ensures the best possible return within the legal framework, and to ensure that investments are made in a responsible way in relation to the environment, ethics etc.

Investments should not be made at the expense of ethical responsibility. Basically, investments must meet ethical standards, and at least every six months, AU must screen its investments to identify companies that do not comply with international norms – including UN conventions regarding the protection of the environment, human rights, employment rights, anti-corruption and controversial weapons.