The Climate Action Barometer for International Education – known as CABie – will allow participating universities to self-report data on specific metrics relating to their international activities, and in return, receive a tailored report analysing their climate impact.
The results will be shared publicly, omitting the universities’ names, so that institutions will be able to see how they compare to their peers while results remain anonymous.
“There is an inevitable tension between international education as a force for good and the reality of students travelling across borders,” said Ailsa Lamont, co-founder of International Education Sustainability Group, the social enterprise launching the new barometer.
“For the world to be a better place, we need students to travel to study. And for that to be sustainable, universities need to address and own the question around the inevitability of associated emissions. It is time for the international education sector to step up, to measure and to track its policies and practices, demonstrating the sector’s commitment to climate change.”
“It is time for the international education sector to step up”
By taking part, universities give themselves a base from which they can start to act – contributing meaningfully to their sustainability goals, responding to student concern and each doing their part to lessen the impacts of climate change.
The new barometer is launching with its founding member universities: Charles Darwin University, Curtin University, Flinders University, University of Auckland, The University of Newcastle, The University of Sydney, University of Tasmania and Western Sydney University.
“It is great to see universities from Australia and New Zealand leading the way in this initiative,” said Lamont, adding that each institution has already shown leadership by getting involved.
It is hoped that as more universities sign up, a global comparison will be made.
To coincide with the launch of the initiative, Lamont and fellow IESG co-founder Will Archer hosted a session at The PIE Live Australia to discuss the importance of the barometer and the contribution it is set to make.
“It’s amazing how much momentum the conversation around climate action has gained, how committed the international education sector is to make sure we can make a difference,” said Archer.
Despite this commitment, Archer highlighted that, until now, there has been no way for the sector to measure and compare its impact.
“International education is a major contributor and what we feel is that it’s important for us as the international education sector to own this and to measure it and to talk about it.”
The barometer covers a range of functions considered as international activities:
- International Strategy
- International Student Marketing and Recruitment
- Transnational Education and Overseas Campuses
- Study Abroad and Global Learning
The results from the first round of analysis are expected in October this year and Lamont told delegates gathered at the Gold Coast conference that several rounds of analysis may be published each year.
“Every action that we take counts”
“Because it’s climate action, because there’s a need for speed, every fraction and degree matters, every action that we take counts. So we’re not going to wait another year to run another barometer. There’s no time for that,”she said.
“What we’re exploring is ways to be able to have a rolling intake and perhaps do the analysis three or four times a year, because we cannot wait years for people to get the results and take action.”
Lamont took the opportunity to urge universities, even those that feel they have not taken a great deal of action to reduce their climate impact when compared to others, to get involved.
“The best time to start is now… once you’ve got the information, you’re more likely to start taking action,” said Lamont.
In a LinkedIn post, fellow CABie co-founder Emily O’Callaghan, expressed her excitement to work with founding member universities in a bid to “empower them to make informed, data driven decisions to help them mitigate their climate impact”.