Climate Plan Update:

December 2022 to February 2023

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The University of Leeds Climate Plan sets out how we will support climate change mitigation and adaptation up to 2030, while also contributing to a healthier, greener and fairer place to live, work and study. 

This quarterly update sets out the progress made from December 2022 to February 2023. 

It includes updates on the following climate principles:

  • Delivering Net Zero by 2030
  • Achieving sustainable travel
  • Supporting a Net Zero city
  • Reorienting research and teaching
  • Providing a sustainable curriculum.

Initial actions relating to our ‘Shaping Institutional Decision Making’ and ‘Enabling Responsible Development’ principles were completed late last year – they will be monitored over the coming months to determine what, if any, further action is required.

This is the fourth report to update the University community on progress made since the Climate Plan was approved by our Council in November 2021. We provide regular updates on delivering our key climate commitments.

For further information, visit our Climate Plan Spotlight article, which links to Our Pathway to Net Zero Emissions report.

Delivering Net Zero by 2030

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Work completed so far:

  • Fully completed feasibility studies across 21 buildings to assess the most effective actions we can take to achieve Net Zero, and began a detailed plan to deliver them.
  • Assessed how much additional electricity is required to support Net Zero delivery, and began securing this supply.
  • Installed LED lighting in St Marks and Devonshire Halls of Residence. So far more than 2,000 lights in University residences have been upgraded, with 4,000 to go.
  • Began researching our approach to offsite renewable energy generation, particularly in relation to appropriate matching of energy generation to usage.
  • Continued planting trees at Gair Wood, including more than 4,000 trees planted by 257 volunteers. We have almost completed this planting exercise.

Upcoming plans

  • Further develop a detailed delivery plan for the most effective building and energy infrastructure work to deliver Net Zero.
  • Develop a just transition taskforce to guide fair and equitable decision-making across the Climate Plan.
  • Continue researching opportunities for early investment in large-scale offsite renewable energy generation to decarbonise some of our energy use.
  • Launch a tender to enable drilling for geothermal energy on campus.

University greenhouse gas emissions

We have introduced a lag in our reporting of emissions data to account for delays in receiving validated energy use data. As a result, this update reports on Scope 1 and 2 emissions for August to October 2022, excluding vehicles, agricultural emissions and the escape of greenhouse gases from air conditioning units.

Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, such as natural gas used in our boilers. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions, generated from purchased energy.

Figures represent tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

We are working to improve our approach to providing quarterly greenhouse gas emissions data and are developing a new data governance approach. We will publish further information in due course.

  • Previous year (2021/22): 9,215 tCO2e
  • This year (2022/23): 8,667 tCO2e
  • Difference: 5.9% decrease

Please note that the dates and figures in this Climate Plan Update and the figures given in the previous update have been amended following data validation.

Achieving sustainable travel

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Work completed so far:

  • Tendered for a supplier to replace current electric vehicle (EV) charging points and install 38 new charging points across the main campus and at the Bodington Football Hub.
  • Ran a detailed planning workshop on campus in March to identify opportunities to fully embed sustainable travel across the University.

Upcoming plans:

  • Following the sustainable travel workshop, we are establishing plans and timelines for the immediate, short and long-term future.
  • Run the annual travel survey.
  • Progress EV replacement programme with the aim of making the University-owned vehicle fleet more sustainable.
  • Scope out the new participatory process using an in-house approach to better meet our aims.

Supporting a Net Zero city

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Work completed so far:

  • Recruited key Net Zero City posts in the Sustainability Team, allowing more detailed planning for Living Labs and Positive Impact Partnerships (PIP).
  • Worked with Associate Dean for Community Engaged Learning towards an agreed and unified approach.
  • Reactivated the Climate Subgroup of the Leeds Anchor network and began exploring new areas of focus, including collaboration on climate adaptation and resilience project.

Working with Leeds Climate Commission and Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission (YHCC), we have:  

Working with Climate Action Leeds we have:

  • Secured a building for a Climate City Hub in central Leeds, 7th floor, City Exchange, 11 Albion St, Leeds LS1 5ES, which opened on 20 February. This physical meeting and collaboration space is a vital aspect of developing and delivering a shared city plan which represents the needs of communities from across Leeds.

Upcoming plans:

  • Welcome a new Living Labs programme manager and start planning Living Lab programmes (interconnected with Sustainable Curriculum and Net Zero 2030).
  • Explore collaboration with White Rose Smart Cities Hub through the Leeds Urban Community Involved (LUCI) digital twin initiative and discuss how we can work together on the Morley New Town project partnership.
  • Induct new Positive Impact Partnership (PIP) project officers and start scoping and developing the PIP programme plan. Map stakeholders and partners to strengthen relationships internally and externally with third sector, SME, civic and local education sectors to facilitate the creation of new partnerships. Scope target sector for first year PIP launch activity (interconnected with Sustainable Curriculum).  

Working with Leeds Climate Commission and Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, we will:

  • Analyse the Climate Action Pledge signatory submissions, identifying best practices to develop case studies.
  • Work with the University executive and the Yorkshire Leaders’ Board to finalise plans and funding arrangements for the next phase of the YHCC from April 2024 to March 2030; work with current funders to seek continuation of support; and explore other funding opportunities, including an Economic and Social Research Council Centre.
  • Finalise the details of a strategic collaboration with the Yorkshire and Humberside branch of the Association of Directors of Public Health, and work with NHS England to support its climate risk assessment pilot in the region.
  • Continue to develop and run the programme of Delivering Impact sessions and associated online consultations via Common Place, and work with Yorkshire Universities to continue to increase academic engagement.
  • Work with colleagues across the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN) to make best use of scope 3 emissions work developed, and assess what further work is needed for Leeds and YHCC.
  • Continue to develop links with national partners, including the Committee for Climate Change (and Defra) regarding the forthcoming Strategic Land Use Framework.
  • Build on best practice developed by the UK Climate Resilience Programme and scope the development of future climate/weather narratives. This will help people across the region to understand the sort of future we need to envisage and adapt to, increasing confidence and momentum in developing flexible responses across sectors and geographies.
  • Support the UK Climate Resilience Programme team in hosting an end-of-programme showcase for the North of England in May 2024.

Working with Climate Action Leeds we will:

  • Develop the Climate City Hub in central Leeds, so the University community can start using it for public engagement, events, meetings and co-working.
  • Champion the use of the Climate City Hub as a space for co-creation of the city plan, enabling collaboration and dialogue between communities across Leeds.
  • Support the publication of a city plan for Leeds that helps us move towards a zero carbon, nature friendly, socially just Leeds by the 2030s.
  • Explore potential connections between the University and Climate Action Leeds’ eight community climate hubs and eight sector transition partners.

Reorienting research and teaching

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Work completed so far:

Geosolutions Leeds is the home for pioneering geoscientific research into subsurface energy generation and storage. Over the past three months, Geosolutions has:

Upcoming plans:

  • Recruit a team lead to start in August.
  • Support activity for phase two of the Subsurface NetZero Project, addressing social, risk and business barriers and potential solutions.
  • Continue to inform and upskill the University’s Geoscience community. 

Providing a sustainable curriculum

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Work completed so far:

  • Delivered workshops on education for sustainable development and sustainability skills as part of Curriculum Redefined and its Surfacing Skills project.
  • Professor Anne Tallontire, Focus Area 1 and LITE Fellowship Lead, contributed to a public Climate Plan panel discussion on 15 February.
  • Three mini projects began, supported by Student Sustainability Architects in paid part-time roles: shaping our new SharePoint repository of resources, extending our bank of case studies and developing our curriculum mapping tools.
  • Delivered the Student Sustainability Research Conference in collaboration with Yorkshire Universities and 12 of its member institutions.
  • Welcomed three new Curriculum Redefined recruits into the project team.
  • Recruited a new academic lead for Focus Area 2: Student Opportunities.
  • Reviewed Education for Sustainable Development literature as part of the LITE Fellowship.
  • Contributed to the Climate Plan annual review process.

Upcoming plans:

  • Develop a repository of Sustainable Curriculum resources for the academic community.
  • Deliver a Sustainable Curriculum workshop for educators who are new to Education for Sustainable Development.
  • Promote the Students Organising for Sustainability ‘Teach In’ campaign and contribute to LUU’s Climate Week.
  • Establish Task and Finish groups to achieve core deliverables.
  • In partnership with Imperial College London, explore international collaboration opportunities to design and launch a global arts competition encouraging healthcare and medicine students to explore sustainability in their discipline.