Climate emergency

Polar ice caps melting

Change is happening

Covid-19 has created an opening, where we can see how profoundly interconnected and interdependent we all are on this planet. We have all, everyone of us, been reminded that we all breathe the same air.  

Just as Covid-19 has forced us all to painfully experience this moment of disruption and make changes to our everyday life, we know that further disruptions are, and will continue, happening as our climate becomes increasingly destabilised. To address the climate emergency will require dramatic reductions of CO2 to stay below a 1.5C temperature rise. 

We must lean into this rare and unique opening to build a new, stronger, regenerative and just economic system.


Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.

Greta Thunberg

We know you care

Smoke and pollution streaming from a factory

In 2019, Saïd Business School Staff, Students and Faculty were surveyed  to understand their views on climate change.  When asked 'How important do you think it is for Oxford Saïd to take further action in responding to the challenges of climate change?'  Those selecting a 9 or 10 were as follows: 

  • Staff: 77%
  • Faculty: 63%
  • Students: 66%


We also asked Students and Staff their views on the climate emergency. 71% of students and 69% of staff indicated their support of the School declaring a climate emergency.  

With the warm winds of our community under our wings we have put together an ambitious 5 Point Climate Plan.  

We cannot be radical enough.

Sir David Attenborough

Our 5 Point Climate Plan

Based on the overwhelming support of our Students, Staff and Faculty we’ve created a 5 Point Climate Plan. We don’t have all the answers, but we’re not going to let that hold us back from taking meaningful climate action.

  1. Walk the talk - Developing ambitious initiatives and targets to improve the School’s own operations.  
  2. Strengthen research - Supporting world leading researchers on climate related projects and creating partnerships across departments.
  3. Mobilise students and alumni - Creating spaces and programming for alumni and students to come together to learn and share best practices.
  4. Amplify teaching - Setting the pace with climate leadership curriculum for MBA, EMBAs and business leaders.
  5. Share the Story - Working with partners to share and showcase the role of business schools meaningfully taking action to address the climate emergency.

Highlights from the journey so far

We’re not starting this journey from scratch. The School has a growing portfolio of research projects, curricular activities, student initiatives already working to address the climate emergency. 

Walk the talk

Divestment - Oxford University has announced landmark plans to divest formally from the fossil fuel industry.

As well as divesting its endowment from fossil fuel companies, the University has also asked its endowment office, Oxford University Endowment Management (OUem) to engage with fund managers to request evidence of net zero carbon business plans across their portfolios. There will also be a new member of the Investment Committee, with experience of both endowment management, but with an additional focus on climate-conscious investment.


Citizen Assembly on Climate Change -  In 2019, Saïd Business School hosted the Oxford Citizen Assembly on Climate ChangeA randomly selected, representative group of 50 Oxford residents learned about climate change and explored, discussed and voted on different options to cut carbon emissions in the city.

Strengthen research

Achieving Net Zero Tool for Business - Working in partnership with the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment and the Blavatnik School of Government, as well as a range of business networks and memberships, we are supporting the development of the Achieving Net Zero Tool. 

This tool will provide a free, interactive online library of the latest available case studies, interventions, and best practices for achieving net zero.


Partnership with World Economic Forum and PACE - The Circular Economy: Boundaries and Bridges launched at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Impact Summit in September 2019.


Mobilising a Movement of Movements - In the first ‘Movement of Movements’ map, the research team reviewed and visually organised over 40 climate action movements based on their location, size, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) focus and movement strategy. The purpose of the maps is to identify where there is clear alignment between movement and they could benefit from working together.


Mobilise students and alumni

Climate OBN - The Climate OBN launched this year with over 90 MBA students signing up for this extra-curricula group. This group is led by students and organised events with speakers and alumni.


AI and Climate Change @ The Foundry - The Foundry hosted the third annual AI Impact Weekend in collaboration with EY with a focus on AI and Climate Change. Inter-disciplinary teams came together to learn how to build innovative, financially viable and ethically responsible AI-based solutions addressing a climate-related challenge.

The 2020 Winners? Team Cinderella; Team Pyre-ates; Team Climate Development Lab.


Circular Economy -  The Circular Economy Lab is a student-powered initiative with a purpose to accelerate and amplify the innovation necessary to transition to a circular economy by engaging and mobilising students, academics, and practitioners from across the UK (and beyond!). The Circular Economy Lab is student-powered and incubated by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.

Amplify teaching

GOTO - This year 500+ MBA and EMBA students participated in GOTO: an action-oriented problem-solving community geared towards addressing some of the most complex issues that the world faces today. This year the focus of GOTO was on Climate Action.

You can follow the teams through the GOTO mini-series and watch Al Gore provide the keynote at the GOTO Climate Action Summit.


Executive Education Programming -  In partnership with the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, we launched the ‘Leadership in a Climate Emergency’ programme for senior executives who recognise the need for change within their business and are looking for guidance on how to best activate it. This programme is currently being redesigned for virtual delivery in 2020.


Share the story

COP26 Partnership - The COP26 High Level Climate Action Champions and Saïd Business School are working together to bring relevant insights from the student GOTO projects into the COP26 process where there is a mutual interest in pursuing a partnership.

We hope this is just the first step and will lead to further opportunities for collaboration as it is clear Oxford Saïd and COP26 both share a focus on addressing climate as a systemic challenge and mobilising a movement of system leaders to take meaningful action.


Bolder Business Education - Dean Peter Tufano provides a Bolder Vision for Business Education, including a clear focus on addressing climate through curricular programming, in HBR.


Climate Emergency Playbook -  The Business Playbook: How to Declare a Climate Emergency and Take Climate Action launched at COP25. Developed in partnership with B Lab UK and the B Team, this tool provides case studies and practical steps businesses can take to address the climate emergency.


Beyond Greenwashing - Peter Drobac, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, interviews former Unilever CEO and Saïd Business School Board Chair Paul Polman and Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Cameron Helpburn in the popular podcast ‘Reimagine: Beyond Greenwashing.’


Coronavirus and climate change - Aoife Haney, lecturer in Innovation and Enterprise at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and Saïd Business School and Peter Drobac director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship share their views on Coronavirus and climate change in The Independent. Businesses, take note – coronavirus is worsened by the same systems that caused the climate crisis.

How you can get involved

Addressing the climate emergency is going to take the energy, ideas and commitment of all of us, working together. 

Follow our work on climate change on Oxford Answers.