Our pathway to net zero

The University of Leeds has committed to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Net zero is the balance between the amount of greenhouse gases the University is responsible for emitting and the amount it is taking out of the atmosphere.

This happens in two stages – firstly by reducing the amount carbon initially emitted, before ensuring that all emissions which do take place are successfully offset by other schemes.

Achieving net zero is which is helping us to plot a path to a fairer and more sustainable future.

Currently, our core carbon footprint as an institution – which is the subject of the 2030 target – is 72,000 tonnes. 

Progress on reducing this figure is happening constantly and from 2025, it is expected that there will be a rapid decrease in the carbon emissions from the University estate.

Emissions are categorised under three ‘scopes’ depending their source. These include:

Scope 1 (direct emissions from owned and controlled sources) Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy) Scope 3 (business travel and commuting)
  • Natural gas
  • Diesel oil
  • Biomass
  • UoL vehicle fleet
  • Greenhouse gases used in research
  • Refrigerant gasses
  • Agriculture
  • Grid electricity
  • Purchased heat
  • Business travel
  • Staff and student commuting

In addition to the target of achieving net zero for carbon emissions by 2030, the University also has a ‘Net Zero Plus’ target of reducing other kinds of emissions by 2050. 

These emissions include water, waste and energy used in our supply chains.

Two major areas where changes are being made are the University’s electricity and heating supplies.

The age of certain buildings including Parkinson, Roger Stevens and EC Stoner means that innovative and unique solutions are required to make them more efficient.

James Dixon-Gough, Head of Net Zero Delivery said: “Electrification of our heating system here on campus is at the core of our pathway to net zero. We will replace our current reliance on gas and decarbonise our sources of electricity, investing in renewable energy sources both on- and offsite.”

Like every aspect of the Climate Plan, achieving net zero carbon emissions is a collaborative effort which involved everyone in the University community.

Ann Allen, Director of Campus Innovation and Development, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who’s working so hard behind the scenes. If we could bottle up their energy, it might power our campus for decades.

“We hope the whole University community will get behind us as we strive for success.”

Watch Ann and James explain how the University is going about achieving net zero.

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