Durham University receives third class grade in environmental league table

By Anna Marshall

Durham has been ranked 96th in the People & Planet 2019 University League Table.

The student organisation judges UK universities based upon their environmental and ethical performance. Durham received the 4th lowest ranking of any Russell Group university.

The rely on publicly available information. Where not readily available, institutions have scored 0%. This does not necessarily reflect the work that is being done in those areas.

Lottie Brand, a Durham student and member of People & Planet, said, “It is hugely disappointing, yet unsurprising, to see how Durham have performed in these rankings.”

“Durham’s current association with Barclays bank and lack of transparency with regard to environmental and divestment plans and policy is alarming.

“Hopefully the silver lining of this ranking is that it brings to light the lack of efforts from Durham University and prompts an appropriate response. Durham would not accept being considered a third class university in any other ranking so this absolutely cannot be ignored.”

Shows the Durham divestment needs
People and Planet’s Durham scorecard

According to Lottie Brand, “This ranking follows Durham’s divestment from fossil fuels in March 2018, coming after a year-long Commission. Durham University promised full divestment with unspecific timeframe, this commitment needs to be followed through and put into policy”.

Professor David Harper, Chair of Durham University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategic Planning Group, said “We are working across our whole community to make Durham one of the most environmentally sustainable universities in the UK, including by introducing strong environmental policies and procedures, reducing our carbon emissions, and promoting environmental awareness.

Durham would not accept being considered a third class university in any other ranking

“We are strengthening our energy and sustainability team so we can achieve more in this area, and we are working with friends, neighbours and partners to improve the environment we share across our campus and City.”

In June, the student think-tank ECO DU released a detailed report on the University’s environmental responsibilities, which was circulated to staff and students.

It proposed various actions the university could take, including sustainable travel, sustainable building work, and more environmentally responsible communication across the campus, with the eventual aim of becoming carbon neutral.

The student body is not currently applying enough pressure upon the uni

“The student body is not currently applying enough pressure upon the uni, and this is why ECO DU was created in order to hold the university accountable regarding environmental issues” said Evie Hill, a member of ECO DU.

In June, A motion was unsuccessfully submitted to the Students’ Union Assembly, as a ‘Green New Deal’ which hoped to establish a commitment to environmental sustainability. However, the motion was delayed due to reluctance from the many attendees.

“We have hope that if the motion is broken down into smaller chunks then they will support our ideas in the new academic year” said Evie Hill. ECO DU’s proposals are scheduled to be debated by the Students’ Union in November.

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One thought on “Durham University receives third class grade in environmental league table

  • The problem here is that some of the companies named are not purely oil & gas companies anymore. Statoil is now called Equinor and has a rapidly growing renewables portfolio so to suggest any investment here is fossil fuels related is inaccurate and misleading.
    Besides this doesn’t consider investment into the decarbonisation of the fossil fuel industry, which is a major issue now, given there will be no sudden move away from fossil fuels in the foreseeable future.


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