The University of Leeds commemorated the signing of a landmark global agreement on climate change on Friday 22 April – Earth Day – by planting apple trees on campus that will also bear fruit for a new centre for climate research.
The planting, which was done by the Priestley International Centre for Climate, is part of a worldwide social media campaign linking the signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement with an ambitious initiative to plant a network of 8 billion trees, equivalent to one for every man, woman and child alive.
More than 160 countries, including the UK, will take part in the historic signing of the agreement in New York on Earth Day, which was negotiated in Paris in December 2015. Academics at the Priestley Centre, the University’s new strategic centre for climate change research, took part in the UN summit and are actively engaged in research on transition pathways to turn the agreement into actions.
The Priestley Centre’s apple trees – an Elstar and a Discovery – were donated to the Priestley Centre by the United Bank of Carbon and supplied by Leeds City Council Parks and Countryside Redhall Nursery. They were planted near the entrance to the School of Earth and Environment, and will provide free fruit snacks to students and staff and benefiting pollinators, in accordance with the University’s biodiversity strategy.
Piers Forster, Professor of Physical Climate Change and the Priestley Centre’s director, planted the trees assisted by Deputy Director Wandi Bruine de Bruin.
“I’m delighted for us to play a practical role in marking the Paris Agreement,” said Piers Forster. “We are also using it to announce our own launch in June, so by planting the trees on Earth Day we putting down roots for Priestley and the planet.”
The Priestley Centre, which represents an investment of £6million over 5 years by the University of Leeds, will launch formally on 14 June 2016 with a VIP Leeds alumnus awarding an international prize for climate change research. There will also be a public evening event in the form of a ‘Climate Question Time’ chaired by Carbon Brief editor Leo Hickman with main speaker Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change and other experts from the fields of government, policy and climate science.
The Climate Question Time debate is at the Rupert Becket Lecture on 14 June at 7.30pm (registration and refreshments from 7.00pm). The event is open to all and tickets are free but pre-booking is essential.
The internal launch event and prize-giving (open to University of Leeds staff and PhD students and invited guests) will be attended by the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, and takes place from 3.00-5.30pm at the Leeds University Business School. Places are limited; book via Eventbrite.