UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology Green Day Symposium 25th January 2021

25 January 2021

The Institute held its first Green Day Symposium on 25th January 2021, building on its success in recent UCL Sustainability awards, and celebrating initiatives at UCL and beyond. The virtual event was joined by nearly 120 UCL staff and students.

IoN green logo

The Symposium began with Professor Michael Hanna (Director, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology) providing an overview of ION’s success at UCL Sustainability awards and achieving our pledges in 2019/20, including vegetarian catering, launch of the Lab equipment repair service, non hazardous lab recycling and packaging reduction, and sharing of equipment.

“ We were delighted to host this first ION green symposium with highly informative talks. It’s now all too clear how climate change can potentially affect every aspect of our health and life. The impact on people with existing chronic neurological conditions such as epilepsy is particularly concerning. It’s clearly time to act and ION colleagues are already very active with many successful green and sustainability activities” Professor Michael Hanna (Director, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology)

He then introduced Professor Sanjay Sisodiya (Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, and founder of Epilepsy Climate Change), highlighting his national and international role in climate change, and as a key player in instigating this event at ION.

Professor Sisodiya highlighted the consequences of climate change on people with epilepsy, from the impact of hot summers on seizures and sleep, to the possible effects on drug supply chains, and the causes of fevers becoming more widespread. His work with Epilepsy Climate Change seeks to engage, raise awareness and conduct research, including investigating household temperature with UCL Bartlett School of Architecture.  He demonstrated how we contribute to this impact in our everyday and professional lives, from attending international events to delivering clinics, with NHS being Europe’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. 

climate change and epilepsy slide
This led into Dr Nick Watts’ talk on delivering a net zero NHS . Nick is formerly of UCL Institute of Global Health and Lancet Countdown, and now Chief Sustainability Officer NHS England & NHS Improvement.  He covered the many inter-related pathways of climate change in the NHS, the size and scale of the NHS carbon footprint and the common goals of sustainability and healthcare: 98% of NHS staff surveyed would like to see a more sustainable NHS. He emphasised that this work has not been delayed by the global pandemic, and they are still on target to achieve an 80% reduction by 2028.

delivering nhs net zero

The final speaker was given by Richard Jackson (Director, Sustainability, Sustainability Safety & Sustainability UCL) who covered some of UCL’s sustainability successes and achievements over the past 10 years including a 30% reduction in carbon, zero waste to landfill and 100% renewable sources of electrical energy. UCL has moved from 89th to 18th in the University Green League and is now number 1 in the HEI carbon league. UCL has also influenced the HE sector through introducing the LEAF system for lab sustainability and working with RICS on developing the SKA rating for new buildings. 

Richard then gave an overview of the key elements of UCL sustainability strategy: Positive Climate, Wild Bloomsbury and The Loop, and the impact of COVID on Sustainability at UCL, as well as the launch of the UCL Climate Hub. He ended by encouraging all ION Labs to take part in LEAF and for ION to aim to have the Greenest Lab in the UK!

sustainability strategy

The Symposium ended with closing remarks from Professor Geraint Rees (Chair of the UCL Sustainability Steering Group and Dean, UCL Faculty of Life Science) who commented on an enormously optimistic afternoon, thanking speakers and leadership at ION, and highlighting how conversations such as these are happening across UCL, as well as in our strategic partnerships; and how UCL can serve as a “ living laboratory” for sustainability.

geraint rees