UB’s climate action efforts rank No. 1 in the world in THE Impact Rankings

These solar panels in a large field east of Millersport Highway are among several solar arrays UB is constructing as part of its commitment to achieving climate neutrality. Photo: Douglas Levere.


Release date: April 22, 2021


UB has one more reason to celebrate Earth Day today: UB is the global leader in higher education when it comes to climate action.

That’s according to the 2021 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which rate UB No. 1 in the world in addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) pertaining to climate action.

In addition, UB is ranked No. 2 out of 560 institutions globally and No. 1 in the U.S. in SDG 7, which captures institutional commitment to affordable and clean energy.

UB ranks 70th overall and fifth in the U.S., earning a total score of 87.9 out of a possible 100. It marks a significant increase from the 101-200 position UB was in among 766 institutions overall in last year’s rankings.

This is the third year for THE’s Impact Rankings, which included a record 1,115 institutions from 94 countries. The Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The rankings provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach and stewardship.

Colleges and universities can submit data on as many of the SDGs as they are able. Each SDG has a series of metrics that are used to evaluate the performance of the university on that goal. UB submitted data on 10 of the 17 SDGs for this year’s rankings.

“Like countries across the globe, our campus has embraced the Sustainable Development Goals and the framework they provide for advancing solutions to our global challenges,” says A. Scott Weber, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

The pool of universities that submitted data for SDG 13 totaled 566, a 50% increase from last year. Despite this large increase in submissions, UB was rated the top higher education institution globally for performance in climate action research, low-carbon energy use, environmental education measures (including UB’s work with the WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable) and commitment to carbon neutrality.

UB also scored well in climate action thanks to an aggressive date — 2030 — by which the university has committed to being carbon-neutral. (An update on UB's climate action work is set for 11 a.m. today.)

The university’s climate action plan, called UB’s 10 in 10, was a key driver of these efforts and one of the main reasons UB achieved such a high score in this SDG.

“I want to thank the many people at UB working every day to advance our great climate action work, which is reflected in these rankings,” says Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration.

Other SDGs in which UB fared well:

  • SDG 1-No poverty: 83rd out of 591 institutions globally.
  • SDG 2-Zero hunger: 61st (442).
  • SDG 3-Good health and well-being: 53rd (871).
  • SDG 9-Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: 55th (680).
  • SDG 10-Reduced inequalities: 101-200 (669).
  • SDG 11-Sustainable cities and communities: 77th (656).
global goals.

Sustainable Development Goals:

7.  Affordable and clean energy

9.  Industry, innovation and infrastructure

13. Climate Action

17. Partnerships for the Goals