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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 carbon reduction target (SBCRT). 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 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 carbon reduction 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.

Targets and emissions across the wider and Collegiate University

The Science based carbon reduction target (SBCRT) 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 SBCRT, it committed developing SBCRTs for its wider estate and operations. SBCRTs 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 SBCRTs. Whilst the Colleges do not form part of the University, there is a shared ambition to develop SBCRTs across all aspects of the Collegiate University.

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

Progress to date

We measure our carbon emissions every year, and report them in our Annual Environmental Sustainability Report

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

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