Carbon

Carbon footprint animation

It's hard to visualise the tonnes of greenhouse gases produced and what this looks like. Here is an animated film from 2014 indicating our carbon footprint, and what this looked like against the backdrop of the campus.
When the animation was made in 2014, our scope 1 and 2 carbon footprint was 11,000 tCO₂e. In the 2020-21 academic year, it was nearly half at 6,088 tCO₂e.

<p>12 steps to net zero</p>

Our commitment

Our mission is to deliver net zero emissions from scope 1 and 2 by 2025.  This is aligned with our vision to deliver excellent interdisciplinary research, experimental education and civic engagement whilst reducing our negative impact on the environment and responding to the climate emergency as declared in 2019. 
Discover more about our strategies for sustainability at the University on our policies page , and find a full size version of our 12 point climate action plan

We aim to:

  • Net zero emissions from direct emissions (scope 1 & 2) by 2025.
  • Continue to reduce mains grid electricity use by 20% and mains gas by 25% as a minimum by 2030 from 2005–06 levels, with the intention to support further reductions through wider energy generation projects.
  • Develop a ‘net positive’ framework accounting for the positive environmental impact of research outputs to balance the negative output of the University’s carbon footprint. 
  • Raise awareness and build a carbon community with our staff and student population, including engagement with target and action plan setting. 
  • Be actively involved in projects that seek to encourage and enable large-scale carbon reduction and promote low carbon transitions in the city and nationally.
  • Reduce emissions outside of the University’s direct control (scope 3) to net zero by 2030–50 in line with local and national targets. 

Our performance:

  • We've reduced tCO₂e emissions from gas and electricity by 54% since the base year 1990 to 2019–20. 
  • Since 2010 we have identified emissions from other sources, and are able to monitor the scope 3 emissions associated with water, waste, business travel and commuting.
  • Started investigations into offsetting unavoidable emissions such as scope 3.

Carbon Literacy

Beyond the environmental degree programmes offered at the University of Plymouth, the Centre for Sustainable Futures works to embed sustainability into the curriculum across educational courses. Students can also find resources on climate change and sustainability on our internal SharePoint pages.
As the University and other institutions develop more actions to tackle the climate emergency, it’s also important that staff have an understanding of climate change. We have developed new sustainability and climate eLearning modules available to our staff and students to improve carbon literacy, as we can only tackle the climate emergency working together as a community. You can find and take our modules and find other climate literacy resources through the call to action below.

Carbon Offsetting

Carbon reduction is the priority of the University but in order to meet the 2025 Net Zero goal there will be a requirement for offsetting remaining CO2 emissions in the immediate term. We have also started investigations into offsetting unavoidable Scope 3 emissions. 
In recognition that offsets are of varying quality, our policy towards offsets can be found here , including reference to third party verification as a base requirement for offsets that are purchased. The University encourages students to get involved with this process via their UPSU President who attends the Sustainability Advisory Group.

Carbon Scopes

The following bullet points provide a brief explanation of carbon scopes. More information can be found on our SharePoint site, including recommendations for staff on how to reduce your impact at work. 
Scope 1 – Emissions the University has direct control over. Covers emissions generated on site through our gas consumption, use of fleet vehicles and air conditioning use.
Scope 2 - Emissions the University has direct control over. Covers emissions relating to energy purchased to meet our electricity requirements.
Scope 3 – Emissions the University has no direct control over but can influence. This includes our water use, waste generated, student and staff commuting, business travel, procurement and investments.
The graphic, taken from our Carbon Management Plan, indicates the split of emissions between the different scopes.

<p>Emission Scope</p>

Get involved

If you are an existing staff or student, more information on day to day operations and carbon literacy opportunities can be found on our SharePoint site (log in required).
Students can also contact their representatives at the student union, UPSU, to voice feedback on the university’s plans, either via the Sabbatical Officers or the Part Time Environment & Sustainability Officer.
Although technology delivers big energy savings, it's estimated that with your help, behaviour change can deliver at least a 20% saving in emissions. Please see the Get Involved page to help us with our ambitious target to be net zero by 2025. 

Students as partners

Discover more

Sustainability is embedded not just in operations across the University but also in our course provision, education methods and research.

Dartmoor expedition

Sustainability Courses and Programmes
Plymouth offers a range of sustainability themed courses and programmes across many disciplines.

<p>Sustainability education</p>

Sustainability Education
Discover how the Centre for Sustainable Futures works to embed sustainability across our faculties.

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</p><div>Aerial view from high altitude of little planet earth with small village houses and distant green cultivated agricultural fields with growing crops on bright summer evening</div><p></p>

Sustainability Research
Our Sustainable Earth Institute is about advancing research, knowledge and innovation for a more sustainable Earth.