Lancaster University: Electric battle bus to highlight Lancaster carbon cutting at global summit

Town, gown and local Lancaster businesses put on a showcase of their work towards net-zero when the ‘Zero Carbon Tour’ pulled onto Lancaster University campus this week en route to a major climate summit hosted by the UK – the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.

The 100% electric Carbon Battle Bus, which is being driven by net zero certification company Planet Mark, gathered evidence of the collective action being taken in Lancaster, and across the region, towards net zero carbon emissions.

The Tour aims to highlight carbon-cutting initiatives from Lancashire, as well around the rest of the country, and encourage companies to commit to going net zero ahead of COP26. It is also providing free practical advice and carbon reduction workshops to organisations and businesses along its route.

During its visit to Lancaster University the Tour showcased a number of Lancaster-based initiatives including:

· Going Electric Together – Charge My Street, a Lancaster-based business, Lancaster University and Lancaster City Council discussed their collaboration around installing electric vehicle charging points at convenient locations.

· Renewable Energy That Doesn’t Cost the Earth – Lancaster University is ranked 1st in the HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) list for renewable energy production at universities. Lancaster City Council is rapidly decarbonising through ambitious whole asset retrofit and renewable projects. This case study explored how the University and Council are expanding their renewable energy production, implementing innovative energy solutions, and learning from cutting-edge research to boost biodiversity at the same time.

· Creating a Sustainable Future Together in Morecambe Bay – The Morecambe Bay Curriculum is a new educational approach tailored for Morecambe Bay that responds to unprecedented global environmental, social and economic challenges. By putting community and environment at the forefront, the programme’s ambition is to prepare our children and young adults to be change-makers and innovators, active in ecological regeneration and positive social change.

· Carbon Accounting for Net Zero – Mike Berners-Lee a Professor in Practice and MD of Small World Consulting, a company located on campus, outlined the need for robust carbon accounting amongst businesses. Small World is collaborating with Lancaster University to refine and improve these methods at national, regional and business level.

Home to the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business and the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University also boasts one of the largest groups of Sustainability and Environmental Scientists in Europe. Researchers examine climate change from many perspectives, helping address this complex issue.

The University declared climate emergency in November 2020 and aims to become carbon neutral by 2035. The University has already, for example, reduced its electricity and heating emissions by 50% since 2005 through initiatives such as a biomass boiler, solar panels, district heating systems and a wind turbine at Hazelrigg.

Professor Simon Guy, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global at Lancaster University, said: “Lancaster University thrives on partnership working. It was great to be able to share stories of just a few of our projects that bring together cutting-edge research and practitioner capabilities across public and private sectors including with local businesses and organisations. We have seen through experience that this way of working is essential to get to net-zero.

“It was nice to also demonstrate some of our fantastic renewable energy facilities that are helping to make our campus a lead example of how universities can reduce their operational carbon emissions.”

Partnered with ‘Race to Zero’, a UN-backed campaign encouraging countries, businesses and organisations to take rigorous and immediate action to cut carbon emissions, Planet Mark’s Zero Carbon Tour, aims to empower businesses, organisations and their employees to become part of a greater national effort to protect the environment.

The University has worked with partners at the Lancaster City Council and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to support the Zero Carbon Tour’s visit to Lancaster.

Councillor Kevin Frea, Lancaster City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for climate action, said: “Tackling the devastating impact of climate change is at the heart of all the council’s policies and significant progress is being made in meeting our ambitious target of making the council’s activities net zero by 2030.

“It was a pleasure to be able to share details of some of our projects with Planet Mark, such as the work that’s taking place to make it easier for people to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“However, the council’s own emissions are only a small part of the picture. We need every business and member of our community to play their part so we can achieve a similar target for the whole district.”

Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “Lancashire not only has one of the most ambitious Net Zero targets in the country, but the combination of its diverse strengths in energy and low carbon technologies and manufacturing heritage means it has a unique low carbon ecosystem. This has the potential to make a significant contribution to this important agenda and the UK’s Net Zero ambitions. The exceptional innovation, research and teaching capabilities of Lancaster’s businesses and educational institutions meant it was an ideal location to host the battle bus, giving them the opportunity to showcase their expertise.”