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Picture © Viridian Solar

Overarching aim

To reduce scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions while supporting the University's plans for growth in research activity and staff and student numbers.


Scope 1 and 2

In 2019, Cambridge became the first university in the world to adopt a Science Based Target for carbon reduction. The target applies to the University’s operational estate, and commits the University to reducing its energy-related (scope 1 and 2) carbon emissions to absolute zero by 2048.

The University has also expressed an aspiration to become zero carbon at least ten years ahead of its target date (by 2038). This is so the University can provide an example of what is achievable in terms of carbon reduction, and opportunities for others to learn from its approach, including both its successes and areas that are found to be challenging.

Scope 3

We will reduce per capita emissions from air business travel by 25% against 2014/15 levels by 2024/25, taking into consideration our current under-reporting.

We are working towards setting Science Based Targets for our most significant scope 3 emission sources.

Our approach

Our Carbon Reduction Strategy sets out at a high level what we are doing to reduce our carbon emissions and meet our targets in this area.

You can find out more about our approach to carbon reduction here.

Progress to date

We measure and report our carbon emissions every year. Our latest annual carbon emissions report (for 2019-20) is available here.

Progress against our SBT to date is shown in our latest Annual Environmental Sustainability Report.

Targets and emissions across the wider and Collegiate University

The Science Based Target (SBT) adopted in 2019 applies only to the University’s operational estate – that is, the buildings and sites used to support the University’s teaching, research and administrative functions. It does not apply to all parts of the wider University, including the North West Cambridge Development, Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment.

When the University adopted its SBT, it committed developing SBTs for its wider estate and operations. SBTs have now been developed for the North West Cambridge Development, Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment.

The University is also supporting the 31 Colleges of Cambridge in developing their own SBTs. Whilst the Colleges do not form part of the University, there is a shared ambition to develop SBTs across all aspects of the Collegiate University.

You can find out more about the SBTs that are being developed across the Collegiate University here.

There is also a shared ambition for the Collegiate University to begin reporting their carbon emissions figures in a coordinated way. This remains work in progress but you can find out about progress to date here.

Get involved

 - The University invests in a range of carbon reduction initiatives through the Carbon Reduction Fund (formerly the ECRP). If you have an idea to reduce carbon in your department, find out more about the Fund and how to apply.

- Find out how you can reduce your energy use by reading our top tips.

- Get involved in Green Impact and use this to champion carbon reduction measures in your department.