Progress on the University’s Climate Plan recognised in expert review


An expert review of progress on delivering the University’s sector-leading £174 million Climate Plan to meet net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets and build sustainability has been welcomed.

The review was carried out by the Climate Plan Research Partnership Committee, led by the Priestley International Centre for Climate.

Launched in November 2021, the Climate Plan maps out how the University will: reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve net zero by 2030; achieve sustainable travel; support a net zero city; provide a sustainable curriculum; reorient research and teaching; enable responsible investment; and shape institutional decision-making. The first annual progress report was published in October.

Principal Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Hai-Sui Yu, who chairs the Climate Principles Programme Board set up to oversee the plan’s implementation, said: “I’d like to thank the Research Partnership Committee for their expert analysis of the progress we are making in delivering the Climate Plan.

“Their review recognises the ambitions of our plans, the complexity involved in delivery and acknowledges that an impressive amount has been achieved in our first year. I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has been involved in making such encouraging progress.

“The review also sets out recommendations and advice to accelerate delivery in 2023. The Principles Programme Board will consider these carefully and build them into our thinking going forward.”

Opportunities highlighted in the review include:

  • developing a more effective communications and engagement strategy, which includes sharing our failures as well as successes
  • developing a just transition strategy that ensures our Climate Plan does not unfairly impact marginalised or under-represented groups
  • developing our decision-making structures to improve agility and responsiveness, and share how decisions are made
  • broadening the scope of the Institutional Decision-Making principle beyond an environmental value assessment; and
  • strengthening collaboration opportunities by working with partners to develop ambitious demonstrators as learning opportunities.

Professor Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, who chairs the Research Partnership Committee, said: “The ambition of the Climate Plan is commendable. This ambition isn’t just expressed in the decarbonisation of the University operations, it is also present in the delivery of more systemic change and the support for climate action across our city, sector, country and planet. 

“An impressive amount has been achieved by the Climate Plan delivery team in its first year: employing staff; setting up governance structures with executive responsibilities; initiating spend of the committed investment; populating working groups; and engaging with both academics and students. The team is enthusiastic, committed, open to new ideas and realistic about the challenges ahead. They are supported by the University leadership and understand the complexities and structures of decision-making processes across the University.

“Our review includes opportunities to build on this progress during the next year and we hope it supports the delivery team in realising its ambition and is the catalyst for institutional-wide engagement to envision the end point of what will be the biggest transformation in our history.”

Discuss the Climate Plan

Staff and students can register to attend the first open discussion of the University’s Climate Plan. We will be discussing our ambitions to tackle climate change, including targets and investments to achieve net zero by 2030. Chaired by Professor Richard Beardsworth (Head of School, POLIS), with welcome and closing remarks from Vice-Chancellor Professor Simone Buitendijk, the event includes the opportunity to hear from our panel of experts and ask questions. Running from 3.30-5pm on Wednesday 15 February, there will also be time for informal discussion afterwards. Refreshments will be provided.