The 14 Dutch universities united in the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) have all expressed their support for the climate letter, which by now has been signed by almost 1,300 members of staff. The letter emphatically calls on the universities to adopt and implement an ambitious climate agenda. This would involve such issues as reorganising the staff commute, disinvesting in the fossil fuel industry and reducing air travel wherever possible. VSNU President Pieter Duisenberg: 'The academic community can and must play a leading role in addressing climate change. This not only involves knowledge, but also whatever we as universities can do ourselves.'
Those who took the initiative of drafting the letter are pleased that all 14 universities have expressed their support. Thea Hilhorst, who was among them, said: 'After the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the need to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, it's abundantly clear that everyone must take action – not just the authorities and the business community, but universities and individual scientists as well. Personally, I consciously do my best to fly less. Travelling may be part of academic work, but we can take the train more often and invest in other types of communication.' Heleen de Coninck, Associate Professor of Innovation Studies at Radboud University and author of the most recent IPCC report, is quite clear on what needs to be done: 'The IPCC report shows that the consequences of just a 2 °C rise in temperature are serious and to some extent irreversible. Presently we are set on exceeding 3 °C. If measures are not taken at every level, limiting it to a 1.5 °C rise will soon be unattainable. Since the universities are also a factor, the widespread support for this letter is a meaningful step in the right direction.' Many universities are currently drafting an ambitious agenda related to a number of issues mentioned in the letter, such as travel behaviour and food.