Brite Green University Carbon Reduction Progress Report
21st September 2015
Brite Green has released its second progress report on carbon reductions in English universities. The report aims to offer robust, independent analysis of the emissions trends in the sector and provide institutions with tailored information about their performance to help them achieve their reductions targets. As well as the report itself, Brite Green has also produced performance tables on sector emissions as well as individual reports for each institution.
The findings of the report highlight the scale of the challenge of delivering meaningful emissions reductions in absolute terms whilst also achieving commercial growth. They also illustrate that there are a growing number of institutions which have been able to do just this. All top 10 universities, a number of which are EAUC members, have delivered reductions over 40%. The two new emissions intensity tables also show that the majority of institutions have improved their efficiency significantly.
Despite these achievements, the sector as a whole has fallen further behind its carbon reduction target. Absolute carbon emissions for the sector rose by 14,500 tonnes CO2e from the previous year and total emissions reductions by 2020 are only forecasted to be 12%, well behind the 43% sector target. Over 75% of universities are set to miss their own 2020 targets.
Commercial growth is an important driver and it is clear that carbon and commercial strategies are not aligned in many institutions.
In many ways, the challenges universities face in delivering carbon reductions mirror those of the economy as a whole and it’s important that institutions take a strategic approach to managing them. The case for carbon management and broad sustainability should be made strategically, incorporating all material risks, drivers and opportunities.
Institutional carbon strategies should be integrated into the commercial strategies with aligned and achievable reduction targets. Monitoring effective implementation of the carbon plan is key, with defined responsibility amongst top management. Climate change is likely to be the defining challenge of the 21st century.
Universities in this country have been pivotal in developing not only the underlying climate science but also many of the solutions needed to address its consequences. It is important that universities continue to take a leadership role in carbon management and innovative abatement technologies, and lobby for effective government policy in the UK and on the international stage.
Iain Patton, Chief Executive, EAUC comments, “The findings in the latest Brite Green report outline the dilemma the university sector faces in meeting their carbon reduction targets whilst driving commercial growth. An independent light being shone on us may be uncomfortable but it’s vital. With a near collapse of carbon reduction policy drivers and funding coming from HEFCE and wider Government, the English university sector stands at a cross roads.
"Universities have led our understanding of climate science, climate adaptation and mitigation. This has to shape the way they operate and manage their own carbon footprint. With the marketisation of an ever more competitive sector, universities have to up their carbon game to attract students. It’s time to look again at investing in carbon reduction and universities should review their carbon management plans to ensure they are doing all they can to reduce their impacts.”
To find out more you can download the full report here