A requirement for carbon offsetting
The University will focus on reducing its carbon footprint as much as possible between now and 2035; at the same time, we will phase in the use of offsetting to help reduce our net carbon footprint during the 2020s and achieve net carbon neutrality by 2030. At that point, the University will have the option of holding its position or electing to go further and becoming carbon net negative.
Gold standard offsetting (involving carbon credits that are real and verifiable) currently costs £20 per tCO 2 . If emissions are reduced to 37,000 tCO 2 e per annum by 2030, this would mean a cost of £740,000 per annum from 2030, reducing to approximately £640,000 per annum from 2035.
Offsetting is not just about salving our institutional conscience – it can also deliver tangible benefits. For example, reforested land or restored peatland in Scotland could provide research and learning opportunities for academics and students, while projects in low- & middle-income countries (LMICs) can improve the quality of life for people around the world; again, these interventions could be combined with research initiatives funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund and other sources. Organisations like the EAUC are exploring the scope for collaboration across the higher education sector to provide a bespoke approach to offsetting which can be seamlessly linked to academic activity; the benefits for local biodiversity and local communities will also be paramount.
As well as using offsetting to help achieve net carbon neutrality in relation to Scope 1 and 2 emissions, we will address the impact of international student travel by offsetting one return journey a year for every student from outside Europe.
We will build the financial costs of achieving net carbon neutrality by 2030 into our financial and capital plans. At the same time, we recognise that circumstances may change, and that while our goals should remain fixed, circumstances and the best route to achieving them may change.
We will therefore monitor carefully the financial cost of different interventions on the road to carbon neutrality and will be prepared to review the list of measures we implement.