The University of St Andrews has appointed former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government, Professor Sir Ian Boyd, to lead its response to the climate crisis.
Sir Ian, an authority on climate change and the strategic shifts required to address it, has been tasked by the University to challenge it, and its staff and students, to develop novel, evidence-led responses to the need to further reduce St Andrews’ carbon footprint.
The University has committed to become carbon neutral for its energy use by 2025 and was amongst the first in the UK to pursue major green energy initiatives with the commissioning of a £25 million biomass and energy centre on its Eden Campus site at Guardbridge.
Sir Ian will head up a dedicated Environmental Sustainability Board to bring together the University’s world-class climate research with the aim of becoming the first UK university to be carbon neutral for its energy use.
The board will capitalise on the University’s existing research expertise and knowledge to produce a set of environmental targets, develop an Environmental Sustainability Strategy to achieve these, and act as an advisory board for the University to ensure future plans are sustainable with the aim of positioning the University as a global leader in creating environmental solutions.
Staff members and students will be appointed to identify ways in which the University can radically change its approach to the use of resources, ethical investments and carbon use.
Sir Ian said: “This will in no uncertain terms present a significant challenge, particularly to an international institution that attracts people to Scotland from around the world and aims to participate in global debates.
“St Andrews has already made progress towards carbon neutrality with the implementation of a biomass energy plant at Guardbridge and moves towards greener energy. However, there is significant work to be done and the University of St Andrews as a global leader in research must play its part in tackling the impact of humanity on our natural resources.”
Principal Professor Sally Mapstone said: “We are striving to become carbon neutral, we were amongst the first to introduce academic programmes on sustainable development, our research portfolio is blessed by a range of important projects responding to climate change, and our students, staff, and townsfolk have taken to the streets and the beaches to demonstrate for action.
“It’s clear to me however that we can do more as a University to show leadership and drive change in this key area of social responsibility. Ian’s role is not only to harness the best of us, but to challenge us as an institution, and as individuals, and I expect and hope that this will be a subject which promotes widespread and robust debate across our community.”
Professor Sir Ian Boyd is a marine and polar scientist with a distinguished career which has focused on the management of human impact on the environment.
He has held significant scientific posts including serving as a Science Programme Director with the British Antarctic Survey, creating the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) as well as serving as Chief Scientist to the Behavioural Response Study for the US Navy.
He served as Chief Scientific Officer to DEFRA (the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) from 2012 until last year when he was knighted for his services to science and economics on food and the environment.