Our new Climate Change Degree: helping future generations protect the planet


The course delivered by the Natural Resources Institute is the only one of its kind in the south-east of England, and reflects our commitment to sustainability.

At the time of writing this article, Istanbul is projected to run out of water in 45 days. A combination of low rainfall, urbanisation, population growth and industrialisation has placed significant demands on water resources, prompting a call for water rationing. This is further complicated by the increasing water demands of agriculture.

Climate change effects everyone

The impact of progressing climate change will not just effect everyone directly in terms of increasing meteorological phenomena but also in the way we live and all life on land.

“Shortages of food and water are already fuelling armed conflict, and there is likely much worse to come without greater action. These catastrophic consequences are very well known.  But so, too, are the solutions.  Put simply, we must limit temperature increases to 1.5ºC and protect those already being hit hardest”

UN Secretary- General António Guterres - July 2020

The impacts of climate change are global and unprecedented in scale and many countries and organisations have declared a climate emergency setting out not only their commitment to action but also a timeframe to achieve net zero. For example, the University of Greenwich has committed to achieving Net Zero by 2030.

Amid increased political polarisation, the validity of climate change risk becomes something that is part of a wider package of values as opposed to a question that can be scientifically resolved. In addition, the scale and urgency of climate change risks paralysis or despondency when faced with the likely extent of the impact we are facing collectively, which will manifest differently based on geographic and economic variation.

The programme seeks to reinforce the role of individuals

Our Climate Change degree provides a space where students and staff identify and explore how to navigate inevitable trade-offs by considering our place in a wider system that interacts across economic, social, as well as environmental spheres. This programme is founded upon the need to convey practical and conceptual skillsets with a focus around climate mitigation and adaptation. This manifests in a wide array of different subjects which convey skills in legal as well as policy and scenario development.

The course will provide students with essential skills such as carbon accounting, risk assessment and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which are increasingly sought after by employers who have made commitments to reduce their Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

Natural Resources Institute (NRI)

The course is delivered by the NRI - part of the university’s faculty of Engineering and Science and is built on the experiences of staff at NRI who have spent their careers working directly with communities in the developing world that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Their experience also navigates more economically developed regions that may not have established capacity to respond to specific challenges. Staff at NRI have and continue to contribute to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports as authors and reviewers.

Creating a better future

Putting climate change on our academic agenda reinforces our clear commitment as a university to invest in the future of our planet and further builds our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development goals through our teaching, research, and operations. We are also proud to be one of the first universities in the UK to launch a degree on climate change.

Thank you to Dr Conor Walsh – Environmental Scientist, NRI and programme leader BSc (Hons) Climate Change and MSc Global Environmental Change

The university is committed to contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals through its teaching, research and operations. Our work on the CE supports SDGs: 3, (Good health and wellbeing), 6,(Clean water and sanitation),7,(Affordable and clean energy),11, (Sustainable cities and communities),12,(Responsible consumption and production),13, (Climate action),15, (Life on land)