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The UC3M is committed to research and sustainable development in the face of climate change


The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) is carrying out various research projects and actions in order to achieve the objectives and goals set in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The objective is to advance along the lines established in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) linked to the protection of the planet and included in both its 2016-2022 Strategic Plan and its University Social Responsibility strategy.

Edificio sostenible de la UC3M

The UC3M has signed the Climate Charter, a global initiative of higher education establishments concerning the state of climate emergency promoted by the United Nations. This commitment takes the form of three main actions: the mobilisation of resources for action-oriented research on climate change; achieving a zero carbon footprint by 2030 or 2050 at the latest; support for the creation of environmental education and sustainability programmes on campuses.

Climate change research

The UC3M is conducting various research projects related to the fight against climate change. The Sociology of Climate Change and Sustainable Development research group is studying the relationship between social activities and climate change, analysing socio-political and economic trends and proposing strategies for mitigation and adaptation, for example. At the “Pascual Madoz” Institute of Land, Urban Planning and the Environment, they are conducting a line of research related to land planning, environmental management and the climate. The UC3M has recently launched the Energy and Environment Economics Laboratory, EnergyEcolab, to carry out quality research on issues related to energy and environment economics and, in particular, on the design of policies to stimulate the energy transition towards low carbon economies.

At the UC3M’s Higher Polytechnic School, numerous R&D projects related to the climate are also being conducted. The Experimental Mechanics, Calculation and Transportation (MECATRAN) research group is carrying out environmental, recycling and waste management studies, as well as in traffic engineering. In the Infrared Remote Sensing and Imaging Sensors Laboratory (LIR), they are investigating and innovating regarding the use of infrared technology for the detection of gases from traffic or from leaks in industrial environments. The Power Control research group is developing electrical power systems in the field of renewable energies, an area in which the Electrical Power Networks and Systems research group is also working, where the integration of renewable energies into the electrical system and market is being analysed. For its part, the Suitable Technologies for Sustainable Development Group is investigating passive solar systems, photovoltaic-wind electrification and biodigestion, while the Thermal Engineering, Energy and Atmosphere research group is studying energy recovery and sustainability technologies and the reduction of atmospheric emissions from machines and thermal engines, among other aspects. Finally, in the Energy Systems Engineering research group, renewable energies such as thermal solar energy or thermochemical processes of solid fuels (such as gasification and biomass combustion) are being analysed.

The UC3M also participates in various European research projects related to environmental issues within Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme. As part of the IMPRESS 2 project, scientists from the University are investigating hyperspectral techniques for the detection of polluting emissions from the combustion of biomass in industrial processes. In the project, the UC3M has created a “science shop” focused on environmental issues, a format that aims to create spaces for intermediation between the scientific community and the general public. The European Research Council (ERC) has funded two UC3M projects related to environmental issues under H2020: the objective of the ELECTRIC CHALLENGES project is to analyse the design of regulatory instruments that minimise the costs of energy transition towards low carbon economies; the RIVERS project has obtained funding from the ERC in order to generate innovative knowledge at the University with regard to human rights in relation to different ways of relating to water by indigenous groups.

Climate and responsible consumption actions

The UC3M is committed to incorporating the objectives and values ​​of sustainable development in a transversal manner in all its actions. During 2019, the University has focused on – among others - SDGs 12 (Responsible production and consumption) and 13 (Climate action), which relate to some of the topics that are being discussed at the Madrid Climate Summit (COP25).

In relation to SDG 12, the UC3M has collaborated with the Madrid City Council to promote the city's sustainable food strategy (within the framework of the Milan Pact). Furthermore, it has promoted the use of reusable cups and compostable containers in the cafeterias of the University to replace disposable containers, in addition to making progress as regards the responsible management of waste generated on campus.

In relation to SDG 13, “Climate action”, the UC3M has conducted environmental awareness campaigns aimed at the university community, focused on saving water, energy consumption and reducing the consumption of single-use containers and plastic bottles. These containers are in the process of being replaced with glasses and glass jugs and water fountains have been installed in the campus buildings to promote the use of reusable bottles.

In recent years, another set of actions related to sustainability have been undertaken, encouraging changes so as to promote a more sustainable energy consumption. For example, the interior and exterior light fittings have been replaced by LED technology and more energy efficient equipment. In addition, sustainable mobility has been promoted with the installation of parking lots for electric motorcycles and bicycles, places for recharging electric vehicles and others for use by shared vehicles. In addition, on the Getafe and Leganés campuses there are stations for the respective municipal bicycle rental services.

The UC3M is a Spanish public university which is recognised for its teaching, research and innovation. It ranks 34th worldwide in the QS ranking of the 50 best universities in the world under 50 and is included in the Times Higher Education (THE) 150 Under 50. It ranks first among universities in Spain and third in Europe for the number of students participating in the Erasmus programme and it has more than 870 agreements with universities in 56 countries, among which are some of the best in the world according to the Shanghai University Ranking. 20% of UC3M students are international. UC3M has received numerous quality accreditations and awards, such as the EUR-ACE label in the field of engineering and the AACSB accreditation in business and finance courses, among others.