Net zero

This is a complex topic. In a nutshell Net zero means not adding any overall emissions to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To achieve this goal, the University will need to eliminate, reduce, or mitigate emissions associated with its activities. We label carbon emissions according to whether they are produced directly (such as gas use) or indirectly (such as the energy used in producing something that we buy).

Put very simply:

  • Scopes 1 and 2 (directly controlled) – Mainly buildings and vehicles (owned by UoL) – gas, oil, diesel, petrol, refrigerant gas, heat, steam, and electricity use
  • Scope 3 (indirectly controlled) – Mainly humans – what we use (such as waste produced) and buy

Our net zero plus plan commits the University to reach net zero (all scopes) by 2040. However, how we get there is important as early action reduces cumulative emissions and can significantly reduce our overall negative impact.

The University of Leicester is unusually ambitious as we include all scopes within our net zero target:

  • Breadth
  • If we cause it, we report it
  • If we pay for it, we count it under net zero (if it’s in our financial statement, we include it in the net zero target).


Offsetting our carbon emissions is not yet a strategic priority whilst our focus is on reduction emissions, although we are a member of the Carbon Coalition to enable colleagues to offset relevant research activities where appropriate.

University actions

Net zero roadmap

The following areas are important as we embark on this journey:


Yellow sun iconGas

Steps to meet target

  • Heat decarbonisation (target decade - 2030s)
  • Boiler upgrades, air source heat pumps (target decade - 2030s)


Steps to meet target

  • Behaviour change (target decade - 2030s)
  • Smart buildings (target decade - 2030s)
  • National grid decarbonisation (target decade - 2040s)


Steps to meet target

  • Increased investment in renewable technologies (target decade - 2030s)
  • 100% renewables (target decade - 2040s)

Health and wellbeing

Three pink lines with a pink circle on topAdaptation

Steps to meet target

  • Estate consolidation (target decade - 2030s)
  • Building fabric upgrades (target decade - 2030s)
  • Health and wellbeing policies (target decade - 2030s)
  • Climate adaptation measures (target decade - 2040s)

Responsible consumption

Purple circle encased in 4 purple ovalsWaste

Steps to meet target

  • Circular economy principles (target decade - 2040s)
  • Zero waste to landfill (target decade - 2040s)
  • Food waste infrastructure (target decade - 2040s)
  • Potential onsite composting (target decade - 2040s)
  • Minimise packaging (target decade - 2040s)


Steps to meet target

  • Plant-based menus (target decade - 2020s)
  • Equipment and end of life policy (target decade - 2020s)
  • Supplier engagement (target decade - 2020s)
  • Low carbon substitutions (target decade - 2040s)
  • Suppliers to match University of Leicester net zero commitment (target decade - 2040s)
  • Revised procurement emissions methodology (target decade - 2040s)
  • Inset fund (target decade - 2040s)


Steps to meet target

  • Water management policy (target decade - 2040s)


Blue wheel iconSteps to meet target

  • Reduced need to travel (target decade - 2020s)
  • Emissions caps on fleet vehicles (target decade - 2020s)
  • Review international travel policy and related policies (target decade - 2040s)


Steps to meet target

  • Local environment action plans (departments) (target decade - 2040s)
  • Environmental action coordinators (target decade - 2040s)
  • Communication and engagement (target decade - 2040s)
  • Policy updates (target decade - 2040s)


Green plant iconBiodiversity

Steps to meet target

  • Building upgrades include biodiversity measures (target decade - 2040s)
  • Biodiversity net gain - continued investment in tree planting, rewilding measures and species maximisation (target decade - 2040s)


Steps to meet target

  • Direct sequestration (target decade - 2030s)
  • Develop in-house scheme (target decade - 2030s)
  • Explore project opportunities (target decade - 2030s)
  • Recognised section scheme (target decade - 2040s)
  • Informal community (target decade - 2040s)
  • Academic projects (target decade - 2040s)

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