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King's ranked second in the People & Planet University League

King’s recognised for commitment to environmental and social sustainability

Earth from space

King’s has been ranked second out of 154 UK universities in 2021 People & Planet University League. Rising from 21st place in the previous ranking in 2019, King’s also placed first among the Russell Group universities. This ranking reflects King’s continued commitment to environmental and social sustainability.

The People & Planet University League ranks universities based on their environmental and ethical performance. It is compiled by the UK’s largest student environmental campaigning network, with universities scored against 13 categories, ranging from ‘Environmental Policy and Strategy’ to ‘Sustainable Food’.

King’s received an overall score of 79.5%, achieving 100% for staff dedicated to championing sustainability, the rigour with which we assess our environmental impacts, and our education for sustainable development. The ranking also recognised King’s commitment to wider social impact. High marks were awarded for our accreditation as a Living Wage employer, for in-sourcing our cleaning and security staff, and embedding social and environmental considerations into our supply chain. 

I am delighted that King’s has been ranked second in the UK and first among the Russell Group universities in the People & Planet University League. We know we still have work to do but this ranking recognises the tremendous efforts of our students and staff who are dedicated to championing environmental and social sustainability across King’s.– Professor Evelyn Welch, Senior Vice President (Service, People & Planning)

In addition, People & Planet scored King’s highly for our sustainability policy and targets, commitment to carbon reduction, and student and staff engagement. Our staff Sustainability Champions programme has grown to more than 500 members, demonstrating the university-wide commitment to sustainability that this ranking recognises.

Our ranking in the People & Planet University League reflects the wider commitment and progress that King’s has made to maximise our positive impact across our university, and we will continue working with our students and staff to create positive change. Our Sustainability Champions and Climate Action Network are just two examples of how our engaged community is making a difference, and we look forward to sharing our forthcoming Climate Action Plan soon.– Kat Thorne, Director of Sustainability

As a university committed to making a difference in the world through our research, education and service to society, we recognise that maximising our positive impacts is as important as reducing our negative impacts. At the start of 2021, we fully divested from all fossil fuels, almost two years ahead of target, and we have reduced our emissions by 53 per cent from 2005-06 to 2019-20. As we work towards our net zero carbon target, we are engaging our communities across King’s to help us to achieve this goal. The King’s Climate Action Network gives all students and staff an opportunity to contribute to the development and implementation of our Climate Action Plan and take meaningful actions towards solutions to the climate crisis.

King’s also recognises it can have a significant impact on sustainability through education. There are over 100 modules related to sustainability and climate change across the university, including ‘Sustainability and Ethics’, ‘Sustainable Cities’ and ‘Literature, Climate and Futurity’. Through the recently launched online co-curricular module, ‘Sustainability & Climate’, all students and staff can gain a meaningful understanding of sustainability, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how related issues are relevant to their degrees, work and career goals. We plan to continue our work in this area, and an in-depth audit of our curriculum against the SDGs will be carried out in the next few months, with the goal of ensuring all students at King’s have access to education on environmental and social sustainability.

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Delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals

King's College London has a long and proud history of serving the needs and aspirations of society. We are committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a university, and we use them as a framework for reporting on our social impact. The SDGs are a set of 17 goals approved by the 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) which aim to transform the world by 2030. This ranking demonstrates our commitment to delivering all 17 SDGs and particularly 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17.