At the University of Stuttgart, what does it look like when we approach sustainability? First of all, according to the national Climate Protection Act of October 2021, the responsibility was placed on the university to become climate neutral by 2030. We have seven years to achieve this, due to an amendment that brought forward the climate neutrality targets from 2040 to 2030 for public administration organisations (which includes all universities). We need more than to talk about sustainability. We need to make it work.
We want to be pioneers in driving forward climate protection at all levels in our university through teaching, research, operations and structures. That means we will have to change nearly everything in our university, including our governing laws. We see the urgency of combating climate change and its impacts.
We also see the great challenges that lie ahead. We are under great pressure, both socially and in terms of time, to get a grip on the advancing impacts of climate change and to achieve climate neutrality with net zero emissions in 2050, in line with the 1.5°C target of the Paris Climate Agreement. That is the goal we have set, so that future generations find a world that is worth living in.
The University of Stuttgart will act according to its vision, “Intelligent Systems for a Sustainable Society”, and we acknowledge our responsibility to make an active and ambitious contribution to sustainability, especially climate protection and adaptation.
This is not only expressed in the university’s strategy and development plan. In practice, our researchers advance climate-relevant knowledge and contribute to acquiring answers from, for example, lightweight constructions, environmental modelling and climate impact research.
We have also established a ‘Green Office’ as a point of contact for all employees and students of the university. It acts as a centre for climate protection and sustainability issues and a think-tank for sustainable transformation. It is also a catalyst for the university-wide climate protection strategy, as well as climate protection and sustainability education.
We want to be visible in our sustainability and climate protection activities, and to be sustainable and emission-free for our mobility. Accordingly we have hosted university-wide events on climate neutrality. In December 2022, an initial climate protection concept was developed for the University of Stuttgart. We will continue to work on it at full speed this year to make sustainability work.
As universities of science & technology, let us continue undeterred to tackle the big challenge of creating climate-neutral universities, and as CESAER Members, let us share our approaches, experiences and results in doing so to advance faster together.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wolfram Ressel is Rector of the University of Stuttgart