Standardised Carbon Emissions Reporting Framework - Sector Feedback

31st August 2022

As part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Challenge, the Department for Education (DfE) commissioned the EAUC to develop a Standardised Carbon Emissions Reporting Framework for Further (FE) and Higher Education (HE) institutions, in collaboration with sector bodies which include GuildHE, Universities UK, BUFDG, AUDE, and the Association of Colleges (AoC). This forms part of the DfE Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy.

The Framework seeks to guide your institution on how to calculate and report carbon emissions in the FE and HE sectors, and incorporates methodology guidance. From 1st September to 21st October 2022, the Framework's second iteration will solicit sector-wide feedback through our sector bodies. We are collaborating with the above sector bodies and would like to invite institutions  to provide institutional feedback in the Standardised Carbon Emissions Reporting Framework Feedback Survey.

The objective of the Feedback Survey is to ensure sector feedback is integrated into the final version of the Framework. The survey takes 10-15 minutes and should be completed by a member of the senior team that is responsible for this area of work at your institution. We encourage you to collaborate with relevant colleagues in order to provide an institutional response - use this Word document version of the survey to facilitate the process, or you can save and return to the survey. 
The survey closes at 11:59 pm on Friday 21st October 2022

Key Documents and Links


What is the timeline for starting to use the Standardised Carbon Emissions Framework?
This will be phased in starting in 2023-2024 with exact timings to be determined. The Department for Education (DfE) are aiming to launch the Standardised Carbon Emissions Framework to the Higher and Further Education sector in January 2023, via the report of the Queens Platinum Jubilee Challenge which brings together the winners of the Queen's Anniversary Prize on a unique programme to accelerate the reduction of UK tertiary education carbon emissions to achieve net-zero. We anticipate that HE and FE will start to adapt their existing emissions monitoring to meet the standardised Framework as soon as it is available and that it will give confidence to institutions to start monitoring where they do not already monitor or report.

When will reporting commence?
The Standardised Emissions Framework is not a reporting requirement in itself. HESA’s Estates Management Report remains in place for voluntary reporting by HE sector in England, which we would encourage all institutions to continue to use. DfE are working to understand how the EMR carbon sections can be updated to reflect the new Framework. In their new Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, DfE has committed to enable all further and higher education settings to report their emissions via a standardised and comparable framework by 2024 and from 2025 to publish targets and institutional progress for the further and higher education sectors. DfE is working with BEIS and other statutory collection bodies to agree use of already collected data in the first instance to support and facilitate the reporting duty of the Department.

Will DfE reporting replace other reporting requirements?
Reporting responsibilities that are a legal requirement remain in place such as Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) that require large companies (that meet the published criteria) to publish their energy use. DfE are in discussion with BEIS and other statutory bodies about the future of reporting for the education sector.

Will reporting be mandatory?
DfE has no plans to make reporting mandatory while the sector is in the period of recovery from the pandemic. With increased legislation on net-zero, environment and nature, however, it is inevitable that DfE are going to have to increase reporting on the activity of our sectors. The first step to this is ensuring consistency of data which the Standardised Carbon Emissions Framework provides. The government’s Net-Zero Strategy commits to legislate reporting of emissions if insufficient progress is made voluntarily.

What will be the reporting framework for the non-HE/FE sectors?
DfE plans to work with nurseries and schools (and other education providers, as required) to set standardised reporting frameworks and implement effective data-gathering mechanisms so that by 2024 all schools will be reporting their emissions via a standardised framework. With the campaign Let’s Go Zero, DfE will set targets for schools between 2025 and 2035.

Does this apply to the Devolved Authorities
As Education is a devolved matter, the DfE are in discussion with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on potential alignments to the Framework. In the meantime existing reporting requirements will remain.  

We have been using a different methodology – do we need to change?
The ambition for the Framework is that it is adopted widely so that institutions can benchmark emissions baselines and reductions against other similar institutions. Methodology is based on the GHG Protocol, the world's most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standard, so should be familiar, but if your methodology is significantly different we would ask that you let us know in the feedback survey being run from 1st September until 21st October prior to the final version being released.

In the DfE Strategy it states  “On-site emissions from the education estate, baselined by 2024, and progress against national targets published from 2025 onwards” – what does this include?
The standardised emission framework covers Scope 3 consistent with greenhouse gas reporting requirements with which HE/FE sectors will be encouraged to comply within the timeframe. DfE will work with BEIS and other collection bodies to agree use of already collected data in the first instance to support and facilitate the reporting duty.

In the DfE Strategy it states “From 2025 we will publish targets and institutional progress for the further and higher education sectors.” – what does that include?
It is anticipated that these will cover Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions consistent with the standardised framework and existing reporting mechanisms

In the DfE Strategy it states “Biodiversity of the education estate, baselined by 2023 to allow annual progress reporting” – how will this be achieved and what is the reporting framework?
The Department has recently appointed Esri (a geo-spatial mapping software company) to capture and track biodiversity of educational estate over time.  More will follow on the process and time frame for this activity and the reporting framework, once the main contractor of the Nature Park and Climate Leaders Award has been appointed

In the DfE Strategy it states “By 2025, have supported education settings to put in place Climate Action Plans, facilitating the use of setting-level data to inform action – these will increase carbon literacy and inform government on the implementation of decarbonisation solutions and nature-based solutions to alleviate flood risk, protect against increased heat, and improve air quality” – is there any thinking on how the support will be put in place for this?
There is a lot of internal development at present that is engaging sustainability sector stakeholders such as EAUC, Ashden and Carbon Literacy but we are not at a stage where we can share plans as yet.

What are the timelines for this?
June – July 2022: Draft Framework shared with the QJC 21 institutions and feedback provided
August 2022: Next iteration of the Framework was developed
September – October 2022: Sector wide feedback sought through key partners
October – November 2022: Next iteration of the Framework to be developed
December 2022: Proposed Framework presented to the Department for Education

Who is involved?
The DfE have commissioned the EAUC to lead on this work. We are working closely with key sector bodies throughout the delivery of this - Universities UK, Association of Colleges, GuildHE, AUDE and BUFDG. We have a Working Group made up of colleagues from the sector and a Steering Group made up of key stakeholders. You can view who is involved here

What else is happening?
Funded by Department for Education and PHES (AUDE/BUFDG) there is an additional element of guidance being developed which will sit alongside the Framework. This will include estimate costings for specific carbon reduction actions. This will help guide institutions to develop budgets that are aligned with their carbon plans. This piece of work is running concurrently with the above Framework but will be delivered in February 2023.

I have another question - who can I contact?
You can contact Fiona Goodwin, CEO (Interim) at with any further questions.

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