LSE unveils plan to become UK’s first carbon neutral university

The Sustainability Strategic Plan calls for the LSE to go carbon neutral from 2020-21 for all emissions currently measured, with a longer-term ambition of hitting a net-zero target by 2050

The London School of Economics (LSE) is aspiring to become the first UK university to go carbon neutral.

LSE’s plan is to go neutral from 2020-21 for all emissions currently measured – energy use, water consumption, waste generation and business travel – with a longer-term ambition of hitting a net-zero target by 2050 at the latest. By 2030, it aims to become net-zero on emissions from energy use.

“LSE was founded for the betterment of society, and our commitment to acting responsibly and sustainably is part of who we are,” said the institution’s director, Minouche Shafik, on launching the Sustainability Strategic Plan.

“[It] provides a framework for our staff and students to drive meaningful change towards creating a sustainable LSE.”

LSE today is making a commitment to action, and we encourage others to engage and lead on this critical agenda – project leader, Professor Nicholas Stern

The plan follows a consultation with staff and students which revealed that 93% would be willing to accept changes to their university life to support sustainability.

Saskia Straub, LSE’s Students’ Union environment and ethics officer, welcomed the LSE’s breadth of engagement in drawing up the initiative.

“This has set strong foundations for continued collaboration and involvement of the LSE community on this critical agenda,” she said.

“The climate and ecological crisis affect us all and we can only tackle them by working together.”

Co-ordinated by an advisory group of staff and students under the leadership of Professor Nicholas Stern, the plan lays out six key areas on which LSE should focus:

  • Embedding sustainability in the curriculum, including promoting and introducing new courses and extra-curricular activities
  • Making sustainability research a key strategic area when seeking funding and philanthropic support
  • Appointing a sustainability board of LSE students and staff to help shape global discussions on sustainability, together with engaging with public, private, and non-governmental organisations
  • Ensuring that sustainability is a key part of investment decisions
  • Mitigating the direct carbon emissions the school cannot yet avoid (such as travel) by funding carbon reduction projects helping the world transition to a low carbon economy
  • Working with the school community and external organisations to promote action on sustainability

“As the world responds to a global pandemic, we cannot forget the climate crisis facing us,” said Stern. “Both require urgent action and a truly global response.

“LSE today is making a commitment to action, and we encourage others to engage and lead on this critical agenda.”

The LSE is not the first higher education institution with designs on becoming carbon neutral. In February, the University of Worcester, currently the Green Gown Awards’ sustainability institution of the year, announced a £2m boost for its longstanding plans to hit just such a target.

You may also like: Finalists announced for the 2020 Green Gown Awards


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