University Response to Climate Emergency – A Statement of Intent
2 Jan 2020 8:30am
The petition from University staff & students, containing 2,500 signatures, requesting the University to declare a Climate Emergency, is welcome and signifies the strength of feeling and commitment to tackle climate change.
The University recognises the challenge, and our approach to sustainability has been presented to the University Management Group, Council and University Leadership Group during the Michaelmas term. We plan to hold a “Big Conversation” early February 2020, underpinned by a sustained communications plan that will engage with staff and students.
We have implemented a long-established plan for our facility operations and invested significantly in renewable sources of energy and other sustainability initiatives. This includes funding Green Lancaster to implement many projects involving students and staff.
The Climate Change Act 2008 set binding UK carbon reduction targets of 34% reduction by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The 2050 target was revised to 'net zero emissions' in 2019.
Three types define carbon Emissions:
- Scope 1 - emissions under our control – combustion (boilers), vehicles, air-conditioning leaks
- Scope 2 – emissions from electricity generated off-site
- Scope 3 – emissions from transport & procurement
By our direct action and investment, Energy carbon emissions have reduced by more than 50% since 2005 and we reached our 2020 target 2 years early. We have achieved this by a Wind Turbine, Combined Heat & Power Unit, Biomass Boiler, Energy Centre and District Heating upgrade.
We have also agreed:
- o continue and strengthen sustainability as a core element of a new strategy;
- to produce an Environmental Sustainability Strategy and supporting governance structure;
- sustainability as a core element of the portfolio for PVC Global;
- to include sustainability within the Terms of Reference for Estates Committee who provide oversight of the development of the physical and digital infrastructure of the estate;
- to work with Lancaster City Council and other external stakeholders on joint initiatives concerning sustainability.
We also plan to reduce further Scope 1 and 2 by the installation of an additional Wind Turbine and the implementation of further renewable measures such as a Photovoltaic Farm at Forrest Hills. This however is subject to being able to secure planning permission as well as feasible and viable business cases for each of the interventions.
The challenge for us all is Scope 3. The main reason we have not declared a Climate Emergency is our concern about meeting the Scope 3 targets, which relates to Procurement of Goods and Travel - these make up 70% of our emissions, dwarfing scope 1 and 2. To address these we are all going to have to change our behaviour and approach. We invite the University community to work with us to look at how we address this.
Over the next three months, we will investigate the possibilities of reducing Scope 3 emissions and engaging with the University community on how, through collective ownership and behaviour change, we can achieve this.
- The University will continue to progress Scope 1 and 2 reductions to achieve our targets. We, however, require the whole community to change their behaviours to reduce our Scope 3 emissions and so we need to seek ways of achieving this.
- We will establish if we can produce a credible plan to reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions to provide us with the confidence to declare a climate emergency. This will be achieved via engagement and assessment over a three-month period.
- The University remains committed to continuing action in reducing carbon emissions.
Professor Simon Guy, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Global (Digital, International, Sustainability, Development)
Professor Steve Bradley, Interim Vice-Chancellor