Carbon Reduction Targets

The University declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019.  In September 2020 the University Executive approved a new Sustainability Strategy 2020 - 2030 which reviewed the carbon journey since 2008/9 baseline – pages 14 &15- and projected based on a 1.5-degree warming scenario the university aims to reduce its direct and indirect GHGe emissions to be net zero by 2030 from a new baseline year 2018/19, pages 16-19.                   

Carbon Reduction SMART Targets

The University intends to achieve:

  • 5% p.a. reduction in carbon emissions in Scopes 1, 2 & 3, against a 2018-19 baseline, from 2020 to 2030;

These targets will secure a 50% reduction in emissions from the 2018-19 baseline in a 1.5 degree warming scenario. To achieve net zero emissions by 2030, the remaining emissions will need to be balanced with carbon removals, such as tree planting in managed woodlands, managing university land for maximum soil health and carbon sequestration.  We will contribute to a sector owned carbon offset scheme.

Annual quantitative and qualitative targets are set and the sustainability budget identifies specific projects to be achieved throughout the year. Please see our Sustainability Targets 2023-24.

Watch a short film about our carbon journey so far.

Current projects include the expansion of the University’s BMS to a further 3 buildings and lighting upgrades in our Riverside Building, totalling £57,000 and optimising our St John’s Campus heat network, which supplies heat to 6 buildings with a combined area of over 19,000m2. The university measures the carbon for Scopes 1 and 2 attributes these across all our estate. 27.6% of our carbon is attributed to our residential accommodation, and 72.4% to our academic estate.


Progress against 2022-23 targets and historical data:

Non Carbon Quantitative and Qualitative Targets for all areas

Performance against our overarching carbon emissions targets. The University measures and reports on carbon emissions in three ways:

Absolute carbon emissions

The University measures the carbon for Scopes 1 and 2 attributes these across all our estate. 27.6% of our carbon is attributed to our residential accommodation, and 72.4% to our academic estate. Scope 1 & 2 absolute emissions* (tCO2e) decreased 13% between 2020-21 & 2021-22 with a decline of 15% from the baseline year 2018/19. See figure 1. In absolute terms, the University’s energy consumption of natural gas and electricity decreased from 16,380MWh in 2020/21 to 14,561MWh in 2021-22, representing an 11% absolute decrease in energy consumption during the period. To achieve Net Zero against carbon emission targets, energy will need to reduce on average by 8.4% against the 2018/19 baseline year. 

 Fleet carbon emissions increased 80% from last year; but 47% down from our baseline, 2018/19, largely driven by a return to ‘normality’ following COVID 

Scope 3 indirect carbon emissions

Scope 3 emissions include emissions:

  • Purchased goods and services (procurement)
  • Student travel
  • Employee commuting

Scope 3 emissions reduction target of 5% pa (from 2018/19). Across 2019/20 and 2020/21 the University exceeded its Scope 3 emissions reduction targets, achieving an average reduction of 13% pa across this period. This trend was reversed in 2021/22 and 2022/23 due to procurement driven by major capital projects and student travel to / from students’ home addresses. The decision to include student home to termtime travel is because we are following the new Standardised Carbon Emissions Reporting Framework for Further and Higher Education (SEF) published earlier this year. The aim of this framework is to standardise carbon emissions reporting across the further and higher education sector.

Full details are in the above links.