The initiative for the open letter comes from Scientists4Future - Twente, a platform founded by a group of 'concerned UT scientists'. The signatories point out the heat waves, floods and wildfires of last summer and the recent IPCC report, which states that in the worst case the earth will have warmed up by more than four degrees by the end of this century. To turn the tide, Scientists4Future believes that drastic measures are needed, including from universities.
Shaping 2030, the UT's vision and strategy, states that the university wants to be CO2 neutral by 2030. ‘But how the UT is going to achieve this goal is unclear,' says Evert Houwman, UT researcher and co-founder of Scientists4Future - Twente. ‘The plans are not explicit enough. We therefore call for an open debate and a clear roadmap. As a university, we need to think bigger.’
If the UT takes big steps, the university can set an example, says Houwman. ‘People are digging in their heels, for example when it comes to municipal councils discussing wind turbines. The University of Twente can set a good example, which we hope will act as a catalyst. It's not the direct intention of our letter, but it might have a positive impact.’
The letter does not yet contain any specific measures to achieve the goals. ‘There are enough ideas', says Houwman. ‘Think, for example, of a CO2 budget for each UT department or a limit on flying. We should also do something about meat consumption at UT. Because of contractual agreements, it is not possible to ban meat from canteens. But the university could, for example, stop reimbursing meat meals.’
Currently, the letter has been signed about 150 times. The goal is a thousand signatures, says Houwman. ‘Then it will really have impact.’ The group of signatories says they want to help the Executive Board achieve its climate targets for 2030. ‘We want to show that the UT community is willing to take the necessary steps and that the Executive Board is not alone in this.’