Universities on track to miss carbon targets

Universities in England are set to miss carbon emission reduction targets by half, a report has found

April 15, 2015

Of 126 institutions analysed by the Brite Green sustainability strategy consultancy, only 44 are on track to meet or exceed the 2020 reduction targets set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. 

Lancaster University tops the table, having successfully reduced its emissions by 47 per cent since 2005, while at the other end of the scale Falmouth University has seen a 96 per cent increase, according to the figures.

Current forecasts predict that, overall, universities will only achieve half of the sector’s target of a 43 per cent reduction by 2020, which was set out in the Climate Change Act 2008.

While some reductions have been made from the 2005 baseline, by 2013 a reduction of just 8.5 per cent had been achieved. Current forecasts predict the sector will only achieve 51 per cent of the 2020 target.

The figures pose “important questions” about the effectiveness of existing policy mechanisms to achieve the legally binding long-term objective of an 80 per cent reduction by 2050 for the UK as a whole, the consultancy said.

“This year marks the half-way point for HEIs in England to meet their 2020 emissions reduction targets they set out in their carbon management plans,” said Darren Chadwick, managing partner at Brite Green.

“Our findings show that while some universities and college have delivered excellent reductions, many are well behind their targets.

“Now is a good time for universities and colleges to update their carbon management plans and for policymakers to re-examine the pathway to make sure we’re on track to meet our long-term carbon reduction commitments.”


Decrease in CO2 emissions

Decrease in CO2 emissions table (15 April 2015)

Increase in CO2 emissions

Increase in CO2 emissions table (15 April 2015)

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Reader's comments (2)

Could we have the figures for HEI in the rest of the UK, please?
Hi Aileen, In completing the report, we used data from HEFCE and HESA. We haven't in the first instance looked at the performance of universities and college in Wales, Scotland and North Ireland but will look to do so in the future. I'd be happy to discuss this directly if you'd like to - my email address is darren.chadwick [at] brite-green.co.uk. Please do feel free get in touch.