The University’s total CO2 emissions in 2020/21 are estimated at 103,000 tCO2e, a reduction of 11% compared with 2019/2020.

This reduction is driven by several factors, for example the completion of the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) building at Bristol & Bath Science Park reduced emissions from construction by approximately 40%.

The impact of the Covid-19 also had a significant effect on the figures. There was a significant rise in gas consumption to heat buildings that had to be kept well ventilated, but emissions from business travel declined by 95%.

This year, thanks to refining the calculation of our scope 3 emissions, those carbon emissions embedded in the products we buy and how we travel, the figures are more accurate than ever before.

The University has committed through the Climate Action Framework, to challenging carbon targets, which include:

  • Being Net Zero Carbon in scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030.
  • A 50% reduction in scope 3 emissions by 2030.
  • Being Net Zero Carbon in its scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2040.

In addition, the Climate Action Framework Principles commit the University to a ‘whole institution’ response to the climate emergency, and the report shows how it is doing this across four themes: education, research, reducing our carbon footprint, and partnering with other institutions to develop solutions.

In education, climate change is being embedded across the education framework, to equip Bath graduates with the knowledge, confidence, and skills to conserve and protect our planet. The pilot climate literacy programme started the process of supporting students in understanding the basics of the climate emergency and mitigation approaches, whilst work continues to embed climate content in existing courses through the Citizenship and Sustainability curriculum principle.

Bath’s research makes significant contributions to reducing carbon emissions in wider society and the University has several world leading research centres addressing challenges related to climate change. It is also directing research towards climate related challenges thanks to the launch of the multidisciplinary Bath Beacons, and the GW4 Climate Alliance.

The LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) pilot is also scrutinising the carbon impact of the way research is conducted and supporting labs in understanding and driving down their environmental impacts.

Meeting the University’s ambitious carbon targets will require major reductions in the energy demands of the campus and buildings. A roadmap for this transition is being developed following the commission of a detailed heat decarbonisation study of campus, funded by the Salix Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund. This is reviewing the campus at a building-by-building level, identifying necessary improvements to the building fabric and heating systems to deliver net zero.

Recognising that the organisational change required to deliver our CAF commitments will require the support of and impact the entire University community, the Climate Action Team undertook the first annual climate survey in November. This in-depth survey asked the community for its views on topics including energy use, purchasing, food and diet, travel, financial investment, and embedding climate change awareness in education, to help inform decision making as the University works towards its Climate Action Principles.

In a year which saw Glasgow host COP26, the climate science is clear; and the latest IPCC Report presents a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. Society and organisations now need to transform at speed and scale to address the Climate Emergency, and the University is not alone in recognising the inherent challenge in achieving this.

The Annual Carbon Report highlights that good first steps have been made on the journey to become a low carbon campus but also recognises that there are real complexities to be faced in delivering on carbon commitments. Whilst the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for all organisations to drive down emissions, the University is now in a position to start embedding real change.

For more information on Climate Action at the University see here.