Universities likely to miss CO2 targets, poll reveals

4th November 2016

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Simon Snape

One third of university sustainability practitioners believe their institution are nlikely' or ery unlikely' to meet their carbon reduction targets, according to a survey by tertiary education bodies.

The survey of more than 500 staff involved in sustainability in universities and colleges focused on how further and higher education institutions are responding to environmental sustainability and social responsibility challenges.

All but one respondent reported that their institution has a carbon reduction plan, either as standalone or embedded into another plan, the research revealed.

Although one third of respondents predicted their institution would fail to achieve their targets, this was less than in 2015, when the survey was first carried out and two fifths of respondents thought it likely the target would be missed.

The proportion of universities and colleges likely or very likely to hit their targets increased from 34% in 2015 to 41% this year.

A lack of money and staff is the biggest barrier to sustainability, with support from the highest levels in institutions seen as the most important way to overcome this. In colleges, half of respondents working in a lead sustainability role reported spending only 10% of their time working on sustainability. Respondents generally expected budgets to decline for the next financial year.

The poll was carried out by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), National Union of Students (NUS), University and College Union (UCU), Association of Colleges (AoC) and the College Development Network.

Robbie Young, vice president of society and citizenship at the NUS, said: ‘It is a real concern to see that a third of environment managers think they will miss their carbon targets. Politicians and vice chancellors urgently need to come up with a plan, and resources, or else there is no way our universities and colleges will deliver on the Paris climate agreement.’


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