Glenn Houlihan and Tom Robinson
The University of Sussex has plummeted 38 places in the People and Planet’s Green League to 81st.
The University of Brighton came in second place, and despite only 2.5 miles separating the universities there is now a 79 place gap in the rankings, with the report undermining Sussex’s credibility as a leading environmentally friendly institution.
The league ranks universities’ public commitment and performance towards environmental and social justice.
A University spokesperson told The Badger: “Clearly we are disappointed with this fall in the league table – as we take our environmental activities extremely seriously – and as a University that cares hugely about sustainability we’re not comfortable with being placed in this position.
“The league table is devised by the People and Planet team carrying about web based research, so we need to look at how we are sharing information online on our concerted efforts in this area.”
Sussex fared worse in six categories in comparison to last year; scoring 43% in carbon reduction in 2015, this has dropped to 23% this year. Whilst carbon management fell from 70% to 60% this year, education and sustainability staff fell from 55% to 35% and sustainable food fell from 50% in 2015 to 40% in 2016.
The Auditing and EMS category suffered the largest drop, from 75% last year to 5% this year. However, Sussex was only ranked on travel and transport and therefore could only score a maximum of 40%.
Ethical Investment saw an increase from 0% to 20% this year. However, a Freedom of Information Request revealed that Sussex invested £118,253 in fossil fuels this year.
The effectiveness of Sussex’s new Socially Responsible Investment policy, adopted in April, has been called into question, with the university pledging a “promotion of good business ethics and good employment practices”.
Although UK universities are the global leaders on fossil fuel divestment, carbon emission reduction across British universities has been faltering for four years, with People and Planet blaming “the removal of government and funding council incentive or support for sustainable development in the higher education sector since coalition election in 2010”.
Picture Credit: People and Planet