“Achieving that switch from coal will reduce our greenhouse gas profile significantly,” Professor Evans-Freeman says, “so the focus now is on reducing emissions in other areas, which may be more difficult to achieve.”
Another main source of emissions for the university is air travel.
“Networking is incredibly important in academia, and academics build their networks by attending and giving talks at conferences and other events,” Professor Evans-Freeman says.
“While the pandemic has seen some conferences move online, research shows they are less effective in terms of growing your professional networks.
“The real challenge will come as Covid-19 travel restrictions are relaxed - we know there will be a pent-up demand, and we also know attending conferences and events is ingrained in the academic psyche,” she says.
“That’s why, instead of imposing a strict carbon budget or simply a blanket travel ban, our approach is to bring our community along with us. That means encouraging our people to look at options that contribute to both the University’s emissions reduction targets, and their professional objectives - for example, travelling less frequently but staying for longer.”
The University has set targets to reduce air travel by 5 per cent per annum, taking 2019 as the base year.
Along with a reduction in emissions, UC is also sequestering an increasing amount of carbon on its land through its forest plantation.