Most UK Universities Failed To Hit Carbon Reduction Targets
I created a little nudge for myself to remind me that every time I turn the lights on CO2 is produced.
Photo by Jasmin Sessler on Unsplash

Cardiff Metropolitan Has Highest Carbon Reduction But Most UK Universities Failed Target

Jasmyne Jeffery December 6, 2022

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency have revealed that the majority of UK universities failed to hit carbon emission reduction targets. Now, people want the sector held more accountable for their emissions.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency has revealed that 59 per cent of UK Universities have failed to meet carbon emission reduction targets. People and planet, who use this data to rank the universities, have said that “this highlights the importance of holding the sector accountable.”

What Were The Carbon Emission Reduction Targets?

Between the academic years 2005-6 and 2020-21, the university sector had a goal to reduce emissions by 43%. This reduction was controlled by the institutions and relied on them actively working towards helping reduce their effects on climate change.

A large cause for this failure is the universities’ inability to fully commit to the divestment from fossil fuels. Currently, only 50 out of 153 UK universities have committed to fully screen out all fossil fuel investments. Only another 10 have made a partial commitment.

In addition to that, only 7 have gone on to make the commitment to reinvest in renewable energy and 4 have committed to cutting recruitment ties with fossil fuel and mining industries,

Each year, a league table is created to rank what UK universities have cut their emissions the most, compared to where they should be to meet targets.

For 2022, Cardiff Metropolitan University beat all others to top the table. The university had a 65 per cent decrease in carbon emissions targets over the 15-year time frame.

Pierhead, Little Ben, Senedd, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales. Courtesy of getty

The Co-Director of Migrant Justice and Movement Building spoke about their achievement:

“It is brilliant to see Cardiff Metropolitan University ranking first in this year’s People & Planet University League. The first UK university to pass a pioneering policy to align its’ ethical investments approach with immigration justice and commit to never invest in the border industry, Cardiff Metropolitan sets a strong precedent for others to follow by taking proactive steps to address one of the most defining issues of our times; migration.”

Universities Failed To Hit Carbon Reduction Targets

Other successful universities include the University of Exeter and Bangor University both made it into the top ten.

Here is the full top ten:

  1. Cardiff Metropolitan University

2. University of Bedfordshire

3. Manchester Metropolitan University

4. University of Reading

5. University of The Arts London

6. University of Exeter

7. University College London

8. University of Greenwich

9. University of Salford

10. Bangor University

The list takes a lot of climate change issues into consideration, not just whether they met the carbon reduction target or not. For example, although UCL made the top ten, their emissions reduction was only 42.5 per cent.

However, most universities failed to hit the target. Here are the bottom ten on the list, which not only failed to meet the target but lacked in other areas too:

144. University of Wittle

145. Royal Northern College of Music

146. London Business School

147. = Royal Veterinary College

147. = University College Birmingham

149. Royal Academy of Music

150. University of Sunderland

151. Ravensbourne University London

152. The University College of Osteopathy

153. Stanmillis University College

How Did Oxbridge Perform?

29th July 2021, Cambridge, UK. This is a photograph of King’s College Cambridge, with its distinctive gothic styled chapel to the right, as seen from the tower of Great St Mary’s. The grounds of the college are well seen from this vantage point, as is Kings Parade to the bottom left of the picture, the main road and thoroughfare running along the front of the college. Courtesy of getty

Although neither Oxford nor Cambridge were in the bottom ten, they definitely weren’t in the top ten either. In fact, Cambridge was far from it, making the bottom half of the list and ranking lower than last year. They slipped 2 places to rank 84th in 2022.

Oxford ranks considerably higher for 2022, in 41st place — but the top university in the world managed to slip a huge 16 places this year, showing that it couldn’t outperform in this category.

Cambridge could only reduce its carbon emissions by 22.5 per cent, with Oxford failing by a much bigger margin of 12.5 per cent.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.