Posted Thursday 30 November 2023
A new installation at Kingston University's award-winning Town House building is raising awareness of the stark increase in global average temperatures to mark the COP28 United Nations climate change meeting.
COP28 will bring together leaders from governments and industry at the Expo City, Dubai, from 30 November until 12 December to discuss actions to tackle the climate crisis. Ahead of the meeting, colour-coded stripes have been installed on the main staircase of Town House to illustrate the dramatic rise in temperatures from 1850 to 2022, providing a visual representation as students, staff and visitors walk up from the ground floor to the first floor of the building.
Displayed over 28 steps, each stripe represents the average temperature for a single year, relative to the average temperature over the period as a whole. In total 172 years-worth of data is collated with blue shades at the base of the stairs indicating cooler-than-average years, while red shades demonstrate years that were hotter than average culminating in a stark band of deep red stripes at the top of the stairs showing the rapid heating of our planet in recent decades. The stripes were created by Professor Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading in 2018 and have since been used in a wide range of settings across the globe.
Strategic Operational Lead for Sustainability at Kingston University, Stephanie Todd, said the Climate Stripes brought complex global temperature data to life in a meaningful and engaging way. "As visitors to Town House ascend the staircase, it provides an opportunity to reflect on how global temperatures have changed in our lifetime and consider what may lie ahead for future generations," she said.
"Students, staff, business and the local community are looking to universities to play a leading role in tackling climate change. Through research, industry engagement and student-led projects, we can also help support and empower our communities to take steps to be more sustainable and understand the impact we can all have."
Kingston University has set a net zero target for operational carbon emissions by 2038-39, achieving a reduction of 68 per cent from a 2005-06 baseline so far. In October 2019, Kingston joined a pioneering renewable energy contract with 19 other institutions, which supplies the University with 30 per cent of its electricity demand from renewable energy sourced from wind farms.
Fashion student Olivia Williams said the climate stripes visual representation would resonate with students. "It's important for students to engage with climate change and global warming because it will directly affect us as the next generation growing up in the world," she said. "As a fashion designer I want to be mindful about sustainability in my collections. It's always good to go to charity shops or look at second hand clothes, reusing materials and giving them a second life."
The Town House staircase has previously been utilised to raise awareness of other landmark events, displaying the names of Black British women during Black History Month and celebrating multi-faceted representation from with the University's community with descriptive statements for Cultural Diversity Week.