Acting Vice Chancellor, Antony Long, highlights Durham University's work on environmental sustainability, the upcoming Lumiere Festival and pays tribute to our Chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen.
I’m sure many of you have been watching with interest as world leaders have debated, discussed and negotiated at COP26 in Glasgow these past couple of weeks.
Durham University has been well-represented at COP – we have official observer status and many of our leading researchers are taking part in events around the conference.
Environmental research is a real strength for us at Durham; one example of how our research is both world-leading and world-changing – addressing the biggest issues facing society today.
Much involves our Durham Energy Institute (DEI), which undertakes multi-disciplinary, cutting-edge research into energy technology and society. Elsewhere, we have experts in environmental law, soil health, public health and more.
You may have read recently of new research from our Biosciences Department, which has shown that some species of birds are spending as many as 60 fewer days in Africa each year because of shorter European winters – and that some types of bird migration itself could become a thing of the past, with major impacts on ecosystems both here and further south.
As well as highlighting the risks of a changing climate, we’re also working towards solutions. For example, we’re currently supporting a ground-breaking project in South Tyneside which will draw geothermal energy from the former Hebburn Colliery and use this to heat council-owned buildings.
We’re also working hard to reduce our own environmental impact. Pursuing our new Sustainability Action Plan, we have nearly 2,000 solar photovoltaic panels on our buildings and we’ve introduced the My Greenspace app to help our staff and students take personal action.
Earlier this year, we were very pleased to be ranked among the world’s top 100 universities for sustainability – a recognition of our contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Whatever the final days of COP26 produce, a huge task remains ahead. We want to work with our local communities and partners to make a better, greener Durham for us all.
It’s now just a few days until the Lumiere light festival returns to Durham. After everything the last 18 months has brought, what a fantastic prospect to look forward to.
We have supported Lumiere since its beginnings. This year, we’re proud to be a major partner and to be sponsoring three installations: Anthology-Into the Light at Durham Castle, CHRONOS at our Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, and Scattered Light at St Mary’s College.
We look forward to welcoming many of you to our campus, and hope you have a wonderful time.
Finally, I wanted to pay public tribute to our Chancellor, opera superstar Sir Thomas Allen, who is to step down this summer after ten years in the role. We thank him and wish him very well. Seaham Harbour-born and bred, Sir Thomas has given outstanding service to the University, as well as to the region.