University of Leeds: University sets out its Climate Plan

The University of Leeds is making the single biggest investment in its history to achieve a low carbon future.

The University’s Climate Plan will see £174 million invested over the next decade, more than £150 million of which will be put towards achieving the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The plan is a collaborative effort across the University community, involving academic staff, professional services and students.

It maps out how the University will deliver key climate commitments, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, supporting a net zero city, delivering sustainable travel, enabling responsible investment, shaping institutional decision-making, and refocusing research and education.

The plan also carefully considers how to achieve resilience to the impacts of climate change across University operations and support a just transition – ensuring that all groups and members of the University community are considered and accounted for on the journey to a low carbon future.

Read the University Spotlight about the Climate Plan

The central pillar of the plan is achieving net zero emissions by 2030. Several potential routes to delivering this have been carefully assessed, alongside the investment required. The chosen pathway has been rigorously peer reviewed by climate scientists and a review system put in place to ensure the University’s plan and progress continue to lead the sector.

A full report, Pathway to Net Zero Emissions by 2030, is available as an accessible pdf (12MB).

The Climate Plan reflects our role in society and it is an opportunity to harness our expertise, partnerships and collaborations with the city to help tackle the climate crisis, while continuing to get our own house in order.

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor
Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor, said: “The University’s Climate Plan investment enshrines our commitment to building a fairer and more sustainable future for all.

“The University is a world leader in climate research and education. Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow have included significant input from Leeds researchers and our Sustainability Curriculum is award-winning.

“But we know we need to do more. The Climate Plan reflects our role in society and it is an opportunity to harness our expertise, partnerships and collaborations with the city to help tackle the climate crisis, while continuing to get our own house in order.

“Securing our low carbon future will require cooperation, empowerment and widespread communication across all staff and students. I know our community is up to the challenge.”

In 2019 the University agreed seven principles to address the climate crisis, including setting an ambitious 2030 net zero greenhouse gas target, which will see an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions the University is producing and greenhouse gas emissions it is taking out of the atmosphere.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, colleagues across the University have been establishing how they can transform the principles into a full, deliverable Climate Plan, one that is consistent with the values of the 10 year strategy, Universal Values. Global Change.

The Climate Plan was drawn up by a team including the Sustainability service and the Priestley International Centre for Climate. A series of workshops were held with staff and students to encourage active discussion and engagement.

I am proud to have been involved in this important collaboration between the estates team, academic colleagues and students, in helping to shape the University’s Climate Plan and map out a fair way to a net zero future.

Professor Piers Forster, Director, Priestley International Centre for Climate
Piers Forster, Professor of Climate Physics and Priestley Centre Director, said: “This massive investment really sets us on the right path to meeting our ambitious climate targets.

“I am proud to have been involved in this important collaboration between the estates team, academic colleagues and students – in helping to shape the University’s Climate Plan and map out a fair way to a net zero future.”

Before COVID-19 caused some activities to be paused, the team had spoken to more than 740 staff and students through workshops, stalls and a climate roadshow to help shape the approach, with a particular focus on net zero carbon emissions.

The Climate Plan was approved at the University of Leeds Council meeting on Thursday 25 November. The phasing of the investment will be considered by the Council in the New Year.

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