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An important week for the climate

First top marks for the environment audit and then an excellent rating in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021. Both the above indicate that KTH is genuinely living up to its goal of being a leading university of technology for the climate change and a net carbon zero society.

As many of you know, KTH has been certified to the ISO 14001 international environment management standard. The environment audit was performed last week. It was fascinating to follow the process close up for the first time. Four days of intensive work and the involvement of over 100 people at KTH. The results: Passed with distinction.

 The audit shows that we have processes in place together with the engagement and leadership to implement what is required. The auditors also praised the positive attitude they were met with at the KTH schools. Together with KTH Sustainability Manager Kristina Von Oelreich, I would like to thank you all for your fine work.

The excellent results in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021 that were announced April 21 are also a result of the engagement and cooperation between researchers, teachers, students and partners.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency has just released a report with the title: Conspiracy Theories and Covid-19: the mechanisms behind a fast growing social challenge. The research study was headed by Andreas Önnerfors, Professor in Intellectual History at Uppsala University.

What does this have to do with sustainable development, you may think? Rather a lot, I would say, if you expand the theories theme to the climate issue. I would encourage everyone who has the time, to read the report and think about how we can develop common know-how to counter various kinds of conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories typically thrive in times of crisis and there are numerous examples where they can seriously put a brake on our capacity to act rationally and sufficiently forcefully. It is therefore pleasing to see that the new US administration has set ambitious new targets to once more be part of global efforts to tackle the climate issue.

At the virtual summit meeting arranged in the past few days, ambitious new goals were presented where the US aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50-52 percent compared to the 2005 level. Japan, Canada, South Korea and Britain have also set tough new targets. The EU has also raised its level of ambition to a 55 percent reduction instead of the previously resolved 40 percent.

In association with Earth Day 22 April, various interesting statistics were presented concerning how the Covid pandemic has affected global trade, travel and industry. In figures, this means that we used three percent less natural gas, four percent less coal, and nine percent less oil. This means that global CO2 emissions fell sharply for the first time in a long time. One assessment is seven percent. (Source: Carbon Monitor  Programme /Nature analysis).

We now need to take heed of what we have learned in 2020 when we gradually return to a well-functioning society. The fact that Biden’s summit was by Zoom is one example we can adopt.