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Reducing Carbon Emissions

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Climate Emergency Carbon Reduction Plan

Lancaster University’s Climate Emergency Carbon Reduction Plan (CECRP) has been produced to provide a strategic route map, detailing how the University proposes to reduce its carbon emissions through the implementation of a range of projects, policies, education and behaviour change.

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Climate change is the most significant issue affecting Planet Earth. Our understanding of the impacts of climate change and global warming have never been clearer and it has fallen to our generation to meet this challenge.

Institutional action maintained over long timescales will be essential to reducing carbon emissions and avoiding catastrophic climate change. Lancaster University is in a position to lead in this endeavour, given the sustained effort required over extended timescales. The university has the necessary leadership support, ability to implement major carbon reduction projects and research and the teaching expertise to meet the challenge of climate change.

It is essential for the University to be ambitious in its carbon emission targets and in the projects it implements in order to achieve them. The Climate Emergency Plan (CEP) recognises this, incorporating a range of projects from the conventional to cutting edge. It is critical that all types of technology and changes in activities are considered as the carbon reduction targets for 2030 and 2035 established in this document are very challenging and will only be achieved through the deployment of all available technologies and transformational alterations to operations and behaviours.

aerial image of campus from the South

Climate Emergency Declaration

Whilst implementation of projects in the CMP has been very successful, delivering substantial reductions in carbon emissions, and achieving the 2020 carbon reduction target, the rapid increases in atmospheric carbon and impacts of global warming have emphasised the need to more rapid and comprehensive action to address all emission sources.

In recognition of the increasing urgency to respond to climate change, internal staff and student pressure and the scientific and HE sector consensus that rapid action was imperative, Lancaster University declared a climate emergency in November 2020. The Declaration of Climate Emergency commits Lancaster University to becoming ‘net zero’ from Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions (mainly from electricity and gas consumption) by 2030 and ‘net zero’ from scope 3 (from transport and procurement) by 2035. The targets are ‘science based’ in that they reflect the urgency of the task to reduce carbon emissions as rapidly as possible.

Lancaster University Carbon Footprint

Lancaster University’s total carbon footprint from its activities and operations in 2019-20 was 70,660tonnes CO2e. Emissions from Scope 1 & 2 sources (primarily electricity and gas consumption) comprised 11,689t CO2e or 17% of the total. Of University Scope 3 emissions, those relating to transport comprised 19,850t CO2e, or 28% of the total, with procurement accounting for 39,121t CO2e, or 55% of total emissions. A breakdown of Lancaster University Carbon Footprint is presented on Figure X (not included at present).

16% Scope 1 & 2
27% Scope 3 - Travel
57% Scope 3 - Procurement

Carbon Reduction Projects

The University is revising its strategic approach to sustainability and has already reduced it's heating and electricity emissions by more than 50% since 2005. Take a look at the University's upcoming and current projects, aimed at reducing carbon and improving the environment.

Sign at Lancaster train station

Travel Decision Tree

To encourage sustainable business and academic travel amongst staff, we have implemented a Travel Decision Tree, which was designed by academics from the Lancaster Environment Centre. The decision tree encourages people to look at alternatives to high carbon-emitting travel options like flights, and choose public transport, online events or a reduction in the amount of people travelling to one event.

Man and woman sat at a computer

Sustainable procurement

Carbon emissions from procurement activities are the most significant category of emissions at Lancaster University comprising 57% of total carbon emissions. The procurement team are currently undertaking a large audit of supply chains to ensure we reduce the emissions in this area. We are currently working with suppliers to help them understand their carbon impacts and providing carbon impact training and information (carbon dashboards) internally to staff with procurement responsibilities.

An electric car on campus

Electric vehicle fleet

Two-thirds of the University's vehicle fleet is now electric - and we are committed to increasing this wherever possible. There are also over 30 electric vehicle charging points for staff, students and visitors, plus cheaper parking rates for staff with electric cars.

Aerial view of campus

Reducing construction

Comprising up to 20% of total University emissions, construction-related emissions are the most significant University carbon emissions source. As we advance, the University will minimise the amount of construction, through the refurbishment of existing buildings and facilitation of ‘agile working’ in order to reduce future campus space requirements. We will also review construction materials' use and embedded carbon content to seek alternative lower carbon, sustainable products.

Food in cafe

Reducing food waste

The Food & Dining team at Lancaster have made significant progress in reducing carbon emissions from food sold on campus through internal catering or in our cafes. One way they have done this is by reducing food waste. Many of the cafes on campus are signed up to Too Good to Go, where any leftover food at the end of the day, is sold at a discounted price through the app - reducing food waste and helping students grab a bargain!

Finance, Governance & Reporting

Under the delegated authority of the University’s Vice-Chancellor, responsibility for the implementation and review of the CEP rests with the Climate Emergency Task & Finish Group. The Task and Finish Group report to University Executive Board (UEB), Vice-Chancellor and Council on the progress in implementing the CEP

Through the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Global (Digital, International, Sustainability) the Climate Emergency Task & Finish Group makes recommendations to the UEB to ensure targets can be met.

Delivery of the CEP will require substantial investment in carbon reduction projects and initiatives from present to 2030 and 2035.