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Our Carbon Management Strategy

Our Carbon Management Strategy

 Climate change was recently described at the United Nations as the ‘biggest threat modern humans have ever faced’. It has profound implications for food production, access to fresh water, peace, security and prosperity.  To avoid dangerous climate change, we all need to fundamentally change how we think about and use energy in order to minimise the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

What have we achieved to date?

Our Carbon Management Plan set a target for a 32.5% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 against a 2005/6 baseline.  We exceeded this ambitious target, instead achieving a 50% reduction against 2005/6 and a 58% reduction in carbon in the last 5 years.

Since 2015 we have reduced our gas use by 7 million kWh per year, and electricity use by 8.9 million kWh per year.  This has been achieved through a wide range of projects including LED lighting, updates to the Building Management System, installation of low energy ventilation and cooling and installation of 200kWp of solar PV. 

These are excellent achievements but we are now looking ahead to further drive down our emissions. 

Our Carbon Management Strategy

Our Carbon Management Strategy is Northumbria University’s response to the climate crisis. It sets out a trajectory for Northumbria University to be Net Zero carbon by no later than 2040, with an 80% reduction in emissions by 2030 (against the 2014/15 baseline).

Our Strategy was approved by University Executive in summer 2021 and will now be reviewed by the University’s Board of Governor’s before its launch in October 2021.  These timescales have enabled for the Strategy to be fully aligned with Estates Masterplan activity, especially in relation to ways of working post Covid-19.

What are our carbon targets? 

We are targeting an 80% reduction in emissions by 2030 (against the 2015 baseline) and Net Zero Carbon by no later than 2040.  

We recognise that it is not only our electricity, gas and fuel consumption that could result in carbon emissions, so our targets include emissions from a large range of activities.  Carbon emissions from some activities are very difficult to quantify or control but, in these instances, we have set targets to generate baselines and develop action plans accordingly.  Examples include student travel at the start and end of term, supply chain emissions, cloud-based IT traffic and storage, and home working.




Source of emissions


Baseline (tCO2e) 2014/15


Reduction target by 2030

Scope 1  Gaseous fuels  6,059  






(9% annual reduction)

Vehicle fleet  65
Refrigerant gases  107
Scope 2 Purchased electricity (Grid*)  13,189
Purchased electricity (other)  0
Heat purchased  686
Scope 3 Business Travel  5,014
Water (supply & waste treatment)  213
Waste  26
Electricity transmission losses  1,087
Scope 4  Commuter travel (staff & students)  6,031 (Baseline from 2020)  30%

*The University purchases electricity from 100% renewable sources via a green tariff, however, as this electricity is supplied through the national grid, we use the grid average for reporting.

Who oversees carbon reduction at Northumbria?

Our University Strategy’s commitments to sustainability are overseen by the University Sustainably Management Group, Chaired by Professor George Marston (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research & Innovation). This includes representation from across the University, including the Students’ Union.

To support our Carbon Strategy, we have a dedicated Carbon Management Programme Board and a Carbon Manager.  

For ways to get involved and to support carbon and sustainability activity at Northumbria, please visit our pages on student and staff engagement.

For more information on our Carbon Strategy, please contact our Carbon Manager




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