University of Leeds reveals £174m climate plan

The university has announced its pathway to offset emissions and achieve net zero by 2030

The University of Leeds has revealed a plan to drastically reduce carbon emissions and achieve net zero by 2030. 

Over the next ten years, £174m will be spent on the project, making it the university’s largest investment in history. 

The Climate Plan was approved at the University of Leeds Council meeting on 25 November, with implementation of the project due to begin in the new year.

The pathway to net zero involves a collaboration of efforts across the university, including staff and students, and has been rigorously reviewed by climate scientists.

Initial years will centre around laying the groundwork for larger carbon reduction, including the refurbishment of buildings, installation of low carbon technologies and fitting of solar panels.

The plan draws from the university’s seven principles to tackle climate change, and is consistent with the values of its 10 year strategy, ‘Universal Values, Global Change’. The university aims to make 41% of its emissions more sustainable.

Securing our low carbon future will require cooperation, empowerment and widespread communication across all staff and students. I know our community is up to the challenge – Simone Buitendijk, University of Leeds

Professor Simone Buitendijk, vice-chancellor at University of Leeds, said: “The Climate Plan reflects our role in society and it is an opportunity to harness our expertise, partnerships and collaborations with the city to help tackle the climate crisis, while continuing to get our own house in order.

“Securing our low carbon future will require cooperation, empowerment and widespread communication across all staff and students. I know our community is up to the challenge.”

The Climate Plan was created by the university’s sustainability service in collaboration with Priestley International Centre for Climate, and was informed by over 740 students and staff at the university, through workshops.

The university will only invest in companies which work in-line with the Paris Climate Accord, and will ensure that partnering organisations and suppliers are compatible with net zero ambitions, reviewing these partners every two years. 

Another element of the plan is to make the entire city of Leeds net zero, by incentivising greener, more sustainable forms of travel. The university will also enable all students to participate in, and learn about sustainability as part of their degree.

Piers Forster, professor of climate physics and Priestley Centre director, said: “This massive investment really sets us on the right path to meeting our ambitious climate targets.

“I am proud to have been involved in this important collaboration between the estates team, academic colleagues and students – in helping to shape the University’s Climate Plan and map out a fair way to a net zero future.”

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