University of Exeter: University of Exeter carbon emissions down 19%

The 2020-21 reduction – far ahead of the 4.5% target – came mostly from reduced travel emissions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The reduction of more than 17,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted brings the annual total below 75,000 tonnes.

The University’s detailed approach to carbon reduction includes so-called “scope 3” emissions from activities such as purchased goods and services, employee commuting, waste disposal and investments.

Exeter experts from multiple fields took part in the COP26 climate summit earlier this month, and this wide-ranging expertise is helping to drive decarbonisation in the South West, the UK and around the world.

Dr Emma Page, head of Exeter’s Environment & Climate Emergency Team, said: “Whilst we are delighted to have seen such a sharp decrease in our carbon emissions, we know the impact of Covid-19 led to a change in our operations and the make-up of our footprint.

“Sustaining this year’s reduction, and continuing to transform our operations, actions and decisions to become a low-carbon University will be a major focus for us.

“Accelerating our programme and delivery plan to be net zero by 2030 is now a major consideration, and a fantastic opportunity as we commence our Strategy 2030 University agenda.”

The latest update includes:

– Reduced emissions from energy use, water and waste.

– Reduced emissions from bought goods and services, including construction, but a slight increase in emissions related to investments (due to improved data capture).

– 38% of statements and objectives in the University’s Environment & Climate Emergency Policy have now been delivered.

– Reduced plastic waste, a 21% switch to vegetarian and vegan food on campuses, and a doubling of the levy on single-use cups to 40p.

– More than 80% of eligible laboratories and research spaces now have Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) bronze status or better.

– Development of detailed decarbonisation plans for scopes 1, 2 and 3, involving regional organisations and partnerships.

“We realise how far and how fast we must go to reach net zero,” said Professor Lisa Roberts, Exeter’s Vice Chancellor.

“Our world-leading expertise is driving our actions and helping councils, governments, businesses and others make this vital transition.

“We will continue to pioneer new solutions across society to ensure a safe and stable environment and climate for future generations.”

Exeter is involved in numerous collaborative projects to protect and improve the environment. These include:

– Tevi – which aims to create both economic and environmental growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

– NetZeroPlus – which will help to bring about the planting of 750,000 hectares of trees over 25 years.

– The Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition (EEIST) – which develops cutting edge complexity-based modelling solutions to support government decision making around low-carbon innovation and technological change.

– The Joint Centre for Excellence in Environmental Intelligence (JCEEI) – as part of the University’s long-standing partnership with the Met Office, JCEEI provides insight to inform decision-making and improve risk management, leading us towards a sustainable interaction with the natural environment and delivery of net zero.