The University of Freiburg is taking a stand for climate protection: it has updated its environmental guidelines and investment policy and in future will publish an environmental report annually and an in-depth sustainability report every three years. “As a place of creative and imaginative thought and a driver of change, universities have special responsibility for a conscious approach to our resources and the resilient, sustainable development of our society,” emphasizes head of administration Dr. Matthias Schenek. “In recognition of its role in the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg’s strategy, the University of Freiburg is aiming to achieve climate neutrality by 2040.” The first environmental report, for 2019/2020, incorporating the revised environmental guidelines is also available on the website along with the amended investment policy.
Key changes to the environmental guidelines, which were first published in 2007 include climate protection being included as a major goal and the university undertaking to produce regular environmental and sustainability reports. In the Environmental Report 2019/2020 the university sets out key facts and figures in relation to its CO2 balance: this shows not only greenhouse gas emissions arising from energy consumption but also an estimate of the emissions caused by official travel. “The data show that the university is on the right path for overall energy consumption and the generation of solar energy,” reports Schenek. “On the other hand, we can’t make a clear statement about the development of other areas such as official travel yet, because we lack comparative figures from previous years.” Ongoing reporting will fill in these gaps and be steadily expanded – for instance it will in future also consider the procurement of materials.
The investment policy is designed for the administration of the assets of the University of Freiburg, which includes 34 trust foundations amongst other things. It now stipulates that investment in companies that are primarily involved in exploration, extraction, transport or marketing of fossil and nuclear energy sources – in other words in coal, oil, gas and uranium – or their use to produce energy is not allowed. Likewise companies that primarily produce or sell armaments or munitions are excluded. If companies operate in the above fields alongside their core business they should also be avoided. The banks in charge of managing the assets have been informed about our new investment policy and instructed to replace any securities affected by the investment policy as soon as possible, Schenek stresses, “We’re committed to divesting at the same time as maintaining the assets that provide income directly benefiting our students.”
The updating of the environmental guidelines and the investment policy was conducted in consultation with numerous representatives from various status groups at the University of Freiburg. “We’re especially grateful to our students who are actively and constructively supporting us with a critical eye along the path to becoming a more sustainable university,” says Matthias Schenek. “We share the visionary goal of a CO2-neutral university and therefore would like to invite them to continue the dialog with us, especially with the Sustainable University Work Group.”