Our role in climate change, sustainability and the circular economy
Across the globe there is a desire to understand and act upon challenges associated with the above. Never before have populations been more aware of the need for change nor had such an appetite to act upon this knowledge.
The chemical sciences will play a pivotal role in solving the challenges associated with sustainability and developing a more circular economy. As such we have a unique opportunity to position our subject and profession at the heart of these solutions whilst also addressing the desire of our members, communities and staff, to take action on these challenges.
We will build on our existing work, global reputation and unique position as a leading voice for the chemical sciences and use our influence to put sustainability in the spotlight, demonstrating how chemical science can provide solutions to the associated challenges, encourage more people to study and work in this amazing profession and leave a legacy for future generations.
Below you can read our strategic actions, find out about careers in chemistry, download educations resources, all with a view to improving international sustainability.
Our strategic plans
- Two year programme running through 2021 – 2022 which used the UN climate conference in Glasgow COP26 as a springboard
- Focus on how chemistry is central to enabling us to consume resources sustainably and deliver the low carbon solutions we need for the future
- Sustainability will be a long-term organisational commitment, including our operational activity
- We have produced our climate change position policy asks and manifesto of actions
- We have committed to the UN Race to Zero to reduce our net carbon emissions to zero by 2040
- Our first Net Zero Progress Report has identified the major sources of emissions from our work, our progress to date to reduce them, and plans for the next year
- We have signed up to the SDG Publishers Compact which aims to accelerate progress to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030
- We are one of the original supporters of the Professional Bodies Climate Action Charter, alongside eleven other professional bodies
- To continue our work in areas where chemistry is key to sustainability and the circular economy:
Watch our short video showing the chemical sciences are at the heart of sustainability solutions.
Our environmental and sustainability themed events
Please see our events webpages for a full programme of sustainability events and environmental events.
Inspire your students with how chemistry contributes to a greener, more sustainable future. Discover how we have put all of these targeted educational resources in one place.
Find free lesson plans, experiments and activities to explore how chemistry can help us tackle sustainability in our climate change and sustainability resources.
You can also use the official COP26 education pack for UK schools and students.
Our survey for sustainability in the curriculum
You helped us shape our education work on sustainability and climate change.
Our society needs citizens capable of making informed decisions about climate change and sustainability, with the skills to work in green jobs in the chemical sciences.
That's why we asked people who work in the chemical sciences to
help us understand the important areas that should be included in the school chemistry curriculum to prepare young people for their next step either in education or the workplace.
We also asked teachers and young people their views on this important topic.
Read the survey results
Careers in the chemical sciences
Start your future in chemistry, end up changing the world!
Find a wide range of inspiring resources on study options, job profiles and different routes to your dream job. You can even take our careers quiz to find out how you can shape the future.
Visit our Future in Chemistry website and be inspired by chemical scientists who are making the difference to our planet.
Environmental and sustainability themed publications
Our new gold open access environmental journal
We recently launched our new gold open access journal, Energy Advances. The public launch of this exciting new journal was 23 August and it will open for submissions in September 2021.
Energy Advances underpins RSC energy science, joining our family of dedicated energy journals – Energy & Environmental Science, Sustainable Energy and Fuels and Journal of Materials Chemistry A. It is designed to complement these by broadening the subject coverage while increasing author choice and improving accessibility to our journals.
All article processing charges (APCs) are waived until mid-2024, to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to publish and read meaningful papers in this field.
You can get the latest editorial board news, scope details and announcements by signing up to eAlerts.
Discover all of our environmental and sustainability journals
Energy and sustainability journals
Our articles, books and journal collections
Over the course of the programme, we will be publishing and highlighting themed collections of articles in our journals relating to emerging areas of sustainability and showcasing our relevant book titles.
View all relevant publications
Share your stories
We know that members of our community around the world are involved in a range of activities to contribute to a sustainable world, and we want to hear about them. Your story could be an event you have organised or taken part in, an initiative you have started, or even your reflections what it means to you. We would love to see any photos of videos you may have to share.
Contact us via Twitter – by tagging #RSCsustainability and @RoySocChem, or via the online form. One of our team will then be in touch to discuss your story with you.
Stories will be published on the community news section of our website, and a selection will appear in the print editions of our quarterly members’ magazine Voice.
Get engaged with the programme
All members of our communities are invited to engage with the programme. You can:
- Follow our social media channels (such as @RoySocChem on Twitter) for regular updates
- Get in touch to let us know about any activities in your communities with sustainability themes and component
- Apply for grants or funds which are available through the Outreach Fund, where you can also find advice and support on new ideas and writing a successful application. Some ring-fenced funding will be available for activities that support our sustainability campaign
- Take part in a sustainability themed Chemistry Week 2022 which will take place 7 – 13 November to coincide with 27th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27). For more information about Chemistry Week and details of financial support available, visit our Get Involved page.
- View resources and ideas available through the sustainability collection on our Education website
- View the growing collection of resources which are available through UK Climate Hub for those actively involved in outreach and public engagement. Use the hub to upload and share your own resources or find climate-related activities to deliver to a variety of audiences
- Become a Strategic Partner in our sustainability activity. Contact us to find out more.
We know that the chemical sciences community is passionate and eager to communicate chemistry, to inspire and enthuse and spread the word about the pivotal role chemistry plays in solving global problems. Throughout the sustainability programme there will be a number of opportunities for you to volunteer your time to help communicate the role of chemistry in tackling sustainability challenges. Current opportunities can be found below and invite involvement from all areas of chemistry, we encourage you to use these opportunities to help with RSC spread sustainability messaging.
STEM Ambassador Programme
Would you like to make a difference to young people, your community and education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)? STEM Ambassadors make an impact by supporting learning, illuminating careers and raising aspirations. For more information and to sign up, go to the STEM website.
I’m a Scientist – get me into schools!
Share your passion for chemistry with school students using I'm a Scientist — an online, student-led STEM enrichment activity that connects school students with scientists through real-time text-based messaging. By applying to be one of the scientists, you'll help to inspire the next generation of chemical scientists as well as developing your online communication skills. For more information and to sign up visit the I'm a scientist website.
“A Scientist Just Like Me” Primary School Resource
Would you like to help raise awareness of diversity in science-based careers for primary aged children? The Primary Science Teaching Trust are designing a new resource comprising of a set of short, illustrated slideshows of a particular scientist or person working in a science-related job. Find out how to take part. Remember to mention you are an RSC member if you get involved.
Volunteer as a Chemistry Tutor with The Access Project
The Access Project is looking for volunteers to support disadvantaged young people aged 14-18, via an easy-to-use dedicated online platform. By volunteering you will help to inspire, motivate and raise aspirations towards further education and the world of work. Visit the Access Project website for more information and to sign up, and don't forget to quote RSC.
Find out more about volunteering
- Laboratories are working to reduce the carbon footprint of their research
- Our policy on the circular economy of precious metals
- How can we make paint more sustainable?
- More sustainable plastics are within our grasp, but more research is needed - read our report
- Chemistry can help the composites sector move towards more sustainable practices
- A task force of industry leaders are working with us to make polymers in liquid formulations more sustainable
- Listen to our award winning podcasts covering many aspects of sustainability
- Our other environmental and sustainability work
- See all our policies, reports, evidence and campaigns
Contact Special Projects
- Our Special Projects Team