Top university climate and environment experts deployed to help businesses make green transition

26 Jun 2023 Business Positive
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Top university climate and environment experts deployed to help businesses make green transition

The University of Exeter has launched a new business support initiative to help companies reach net zero, make smarter use of natural resources and seize opportunities in the growing green economy.


Green Futures Solutions, which officially launched in the Houses of Parliament on Monday 26th June, will provide businesses with access to a unique range of global climate and environment expertise.


The University has led the way on climate and environmental research for over twenty years and now has over 1,500 researchers working on green solutions, including all five of the world’s top 21 climate scientists in the UK. Exeter is home to more of the top 100 climate scientists than any other University on the planet, and is now deploying that expertise to help businesses thrive in the green industrial revolution.


Green Futures Solutions will also make a major impact on the UK’s South West economy bringing much needed jobs, skills and opportunities to the region. By 2030, the University aims to bring in an additional £60 million of private and public investment to support over 4,000 businesses and organisations as well as provide training and skills support for over 2,500 people. Within a 10-year period the initiative aims to generate around £300M GVA and over 1,300 new high-value green jobs across the region.


A recent UK Climate Change Committee report said that net zero offers the potential for significant net employment creation nationwide, with estimates of between 135,000 and 725,000 net new jobs in low-carbon sectors in sectors such as buildings retrofit, renewable energy generation and electric vehicles. The Green Futures Solutions team will work with business across the UK, supporting the green transition and ensuring the country becomes a clean energy superpower, with the South West becoming a renewable powerhouse. The University currently works with over 2,000 businesses each year on projects worth a combined total of £86 million and is now focused on deploying its expertise at a much greater scale and to make a much bigger impact.


The University is renowned for the breadth and depth of its environmental expertise in areas ranging from climate science, environmental intelligence and renewable energy to critical minerals, circular economy and biodiversity. Exeter leads international work on carbon budgets, identifying positive tipping points in the economy, clean mobility, sustainable mining, responsible use of natural resources and nature-based solutions. It is also one of the UK’s leading universities providing degree apprenticeships, executive education and working with regional partners to support new green skills.


Nigel Topping, Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter Business School and business champion for the UK’s Climate Change Committee, says: “For companies the race to net zero is now about competitiveness, and business leaders who fail to get ahead of the curve are giving up market share. If businesses want to retain and recruit talented staff, stay ahead of regulation and win the competitive race then they need to take action on climate change.


“The whole financial and economic system is being rewired to drive towards net zero and away from the climate crisis. The University of Exeter has unique attributes on climate science, systems thinking and an outstanding business school with the economic skills to support businesses make the green transition. By establishing Green Futures Solutions, Exeter is showing the leadership required to drive positive change in the global economy.”


Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter, says: “The race to net zero and smarter use of natural resources is creating huge opportunities and challenges for companies. The University of Exeter has built a team of over 1,500 environment and climate experts and so is uniquely placed to provide the skills, data and practical support that businesses require in a fast-changing economy. Working in partnership is in our DNA and the Green Futures Solutions team will listen, collaborate and bring together the right team of experts to provide business leaders the trusted and informed solutions they need to succeed.


“Exeter’s 2030 Strategy commits us to using the power of our education and research to create a sustainable, healthy and socially just future. I want to see a green economy that works for everyone and an energy transition that empowers people in the southwest, UK and across the world. Huge opportunities lie ahead and I am proud of the leadership role the University of Exeter is playing in building a more positive future.”


Stuart Brocklehurst, Deputy Vice Chancellor Business Engagement and Innovation and Director of Green Futures Solutions, says: “The University is increasingly working with major international businesses and financial institutions who recognise the imperative to act on climate change. Our work on positive tipping points is gaining international acclaim for pinpointing the solutions that will quicken the pace to a net zero economy.


“I am proud that we are also deploying our expertise in parts of the world that will be most affected by climate change. On 27th June we will set out a partnership with the Private Infrastructure Development Group and a range of African institutions to ensure that major new investments in Africa effectively tackle climate change and support communities to seize the opportunities ahead in the global green economy. This science-based investment approach will make a difference to hundreds of millions of lives over the next decade by ensuring funds are targeted in areas that will make the biggest impact.”