Universities failing CO2 test

21st September 2016

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  • Mitigation ,
  • Reporting ,
  • Generation



Universities are likely to miss their target to cut emissions by 43% by 2020, according to latest data.

Although English universities improved their performance from 2014 to 2015 compared with the previous year, they have achieved an average cut of only 10% against the 2005 baseline, the data from sustainability consultancy Brite Green revealed. Based on this rate of progress, Brite Green expects reductions to reach only 15% by 2020.

There is a large gap between the best and worst performers, with London’s School of Oriental and African Studies slashing absolute emissions by almost 55%, while the University of Chester’s increased by 111%.

Uncertainty over government policy was cited by 64% of sustainability managers as one of the biggest challenges to implementing carbon reduction measures. Retrofitting older buildings, a tension between commercial growth and emissions reductions, and insufficient in-house resources were cited as challenges by 57% of managers questioned.

Resource-intensive universities struggled in particular. The 20 Russell Group universities in England account for 50% of total emissions across the sector, but their reductions represent only 30% of total cuts to date.

Many of these institutions need to power laboratories round the clock, the report noted. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge have both increased their emissions since 2005, by between 3% and 5% respectively.

‘There is some good work happening in these institutions and our sector survey and interviews have provided some great examples of innovation, particularly to address energy performance of labs,’ said Darren Chadwick, managing partner at Brite Green.

Many universities have taken a lead from the commercial sector and started to integrate their sustainability initiatives into a single strategy that addresses commercial, academic and corporate responsibility areas, he noted.


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