Climate Emergency

In 2019 we were the first UK university to declare a Climate Emergency. Our declaration shows how urgent we feel the situation is and reconfirms our commitment to reaching carbon neutrality.

Annual Report 2021

We continue to make considerable progress towards our strategic goals. You can read about our recent achievements in our Cutdown Sustainability Report 2020-21 (PDF, 3,514kB)

8 Point Plan

Our goal is to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions to net-zero by 2030, and to set a target for reducing our Scope 3 emissions as soon as possible. Our 8 Point Plan on carbon explains how we will achieve this target. 

Carbon Offsetting

With the Climate Emergency declaration of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, we also pledged similar action on Scope 3 emissions. Read more about the University of Bristol position on Carbon Offsetting




What we have achieved

The University has reduced its Scope 1 and 2 emissions under ISO 14064 from 46,928tCO2e in 2007-8 to 31,923tCO2e in 2019-20, our most recent audited year. This is against a 45% increase in staff and student numbers in the same period, but of course includes the effect of Covid. 

If we consider the properties over which we have operational control, and don’t include properties owned by third parties, emissions have fallen by 38% from 2007-8 from 45,166 tCO2e to 28,174 tCO2e in 2020-21. 

Key projects which have helped us to do this have been:

  • Introducing heat pumps and better heating controls in our electrically heated halls of residence.

  • Instituting advanced control in laboratories to reduce the need to condition air.

  • Recovering rejected heat from refrigeration to warm buildings.

  • Making old boilers more efficient by putting in new, well controlled burners.

  • Installing efficient LED lighting with responsive controls.

  • Installing half a megawatt of solar power, and two megawatts of combined heat and power.

This is all on top of more standard measures such as insulation, control and helping building users to understand local systems.

56% of our Scope 1 and 2 emissions are from electricity. All our electricity is now bought from certified renewable sources and audited to check that there is no-double counting of benefit. This provenance is sufficient to count this as zero-carbon electricity under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Market Based Approach.

In discussing carbon neutrality, we currently use the ISO 14064 standard, which we have held now for several years this uses 2007-8 as a baseline, as it has been possible to calculate 07-08 to a greater degree of accuracy than 2005-6. 

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