Climate Plan Update:

June to August 2022

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

This quarterly update sets out the progress made from June to August 2022.

It includes updates on each of our seven climate principles:

  • Delivering Net Zero by 2030
  • Achieving sustainable travel
  • Supporting a Net Zero city
  • Shaping institutional decision making
  • Reorienting research and teaching
  • Providing a sustainable curriculum
  • Enabling responsible investment

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, is University executive sponsor for the delivery of the Climate Plan and chairs the Climate Principles Programme Board, which has overall accountability for the plan’s delivery – managing activity and reporting back to the University’s Executive Group and Council.

He said: “I am pleased to update on the latest encouraging progress made in delivering our ambitious Climate Plan. There is still much to do, of course, but this important work will ensure we harness our role as a global leader in climate research and education, and our experience in delivering successful change. 

“Our world-leading research and expertise are key elements in achieving our climate ambitions, with collaboration – one of the University’s core values – also critical: the programme is being delivered by a combination of professional services and academic colleagues, students, and our wider community across the city.” 

This is the second report to update the University community on progress made since the Climate Plan was approved by our Council in November 2021. Read the first Climate Plan Update: November 2021 to May 2022

The next quarterly update will be published in December 2022.

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:

  • Progressed a new heating, cooling and ventilation policy to reduce energy use, with a focus on summer efficiencies.  
  • Continued detailed feasibility studies across 21 buildings to assess the opportunities for building retrofit and heat pump installation. 
  • Completed the tender process for a supplier to complete a detailed analysis of electricity requirements over the next 25 years, to support the decarbonisation of energy on campus. 
  • Commissioned a report into climate resilience on campus, which will begin in September. 
  • Completed a detailed analysis of supply chain emissions to identify potential interventions which would reduce emissions.
  • Started an upgrade programme to replace lights with low energy LED lighting, beginning with University residences.

Upcoming plans:

  • Complete the first phase of detailed feasibility studies across 21 buildings to assess opportunities for building retrofit and heat pump installation.
  • Finalise plans and seek approval for the planting of a new woodland at Gair Wood as part of our plans to balance emissions.
  • Develop detailed plans for the installation of solar panels on selected University buildings. 
  • Commence a geo-thermal energy feasibility study to inform whether it would be viable for the University to heat some of our estate using ground source energy.

University greenhouse gas emissions


Scope 1 is direct emissions from owned or controlled sources (for example natural gas used in boilers). Scope 2 is indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy. Figures represent tCo2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent).

Latest emissions:

The figures that follow are scope 1 and 2 emissions figures, including vehicles, but excluding agricultural emissions and the escape of greenhouse gases from air conditioning units. The decrease in year-on-year emissions is due to shutting down a steam heating network over the summer months as part of a review of our heating, cooling and ventilation policy.

Please note that these figures include provisional data which may be updated when energy bills are validated. 


  • Previous year (2020/21): 9,390
  • This year (2021/22): 7,995
  • Difference: 15% decrease

(Please note that the figures in the previous Climate Plan Update have been updated due to the validation of energy bills).

Achieving sustainable travel

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Work completed so far:

  • Appointed a consultant, Shared Future, to develop and run a participatory process for staff and students to help develop a fair and equitable approach to reducing business travel emissions.
  • Agreed interim travel guidance on how to reduce business travel emissions.
  • Progressed our plans for electric vehicle charging on campus, including the completion of an independent advisory report on the University’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. 

Upcoming plans:

  • Commence the participatory process for staff and students to guide on a fair and equitable approach to reducing business travel emissions. 
  • Publish interim travel guidance. 
  • Develop support for active travel, including promoting access to the University Bike Hub. 

Supporting a Net Zero city

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Work completed so far:

  • Continued work with Leeds Climate Commission and Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission to deliver engagement and educational activities across both partnerships. 
  • Invested £3.3million in supporting the University of Leeds Living Labs and Positive Impact Partnerships up to 2030. This investment also enables the completion of Leeds Climate Commission’s Phase One activity, up to spring 2024. 
  • Recruited three Engagement and Impact Officers to join the team working with the Climate Commissions. 
  • Commenced engagement with colleagues at Nexus, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council on Positive Impact Partnerships and Living Lab projects.

Upcoming plans:

  • Work with Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission to launch the Climate Pledge for businesses at the Climate Leaders’ Summit, which will be held in collaboration with the Yorkshire Post and the Yorkshire Evening Post in November 2022. 
  • Recruit additional roles to deliver Positive Impact Partnerships and a flagship Living Lab project. 
  • Assess the feasibility of applying the Living Lab model at a city-wide scale. 

Shaping institutional decision making

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Work completed so far:

  • Incorporated environmental considerations into guidance for the University’s strategic decision-making committees, in the form of a pro forma which is now in use.

Upcoming plans:

  • Produce enhanced guidance to help committees complete the pro forma and draft committee papers.

Reorienting research and teaching

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Work completed so far:

  • Committed £2.8million investment to fund a Subsurface NetZero project led by the University’s new Geosolutions Leeds research centre. This will enhance knowledge of subsurface energy options and support the reorientation of our research away from the fossil fuel sector. A research team has been recruited to deliver the Subsurface NetZero project, including a professorial lead.

Upcoming plans:

  • Begin work on phase one of the Subsurface NetZero project. This will provide baseline data to help overcome the social and business barriers to investment in subsurface energy as a low-carbon, renewable source. 

Providing a sustainable curriculum

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Work completed so far:

  • Established a Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence Fellowship. This fellowship is exploring and sharing the best approaches to embedding sustainability in the curriculum. 
  • Produced sustainable curriculum resources to support curriculum planning and development, and contribute to the Curriculum Redefined project.
  • Begun planning and development of the next Student Sustainability Research Conference, to be held in February 2023. This conference will be delivered in collaboration with Yorkshire Universities to increase scale and impact at a regional level. 
  • Held knowledge sharing meetings with peer institutions. This includes co-convening the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges Living Lab Community of Practice with the University of Manchester. 
  • Appointed two new Leeds University Union (LUU) Executive Officers to the Sustainable Curriculum Delivery Working Group.

Upcoming plans:

  • Develop an award-winning project devised by University of Leeds PhD student Seb Stroud to establish “mini meadows” on campus to enable research into biodiversity and carbon impacts in a Living Lab. 
  • Launch the Sustainable Curriculum programme with the University’s academic and professional service community, and initiate school-level engagement activities in collaboration with the Curriculum Redefined project. 
  • Work with Organisational Development and Professional Learning colleagues to embed sustainability within new academic roles. 
  • Recruit a new cohort of Student Sustainability Architects to support university sustainability projects and the Sustainable Curriculum principle. 

Enabling responsible investment

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Work completed so far:

  • Completed detailed modelling of proposed changes to the investment strategy. This is to ensure the University moves towards investing only in companies which manage their affairs in a way which is consistent with Paris Climate Accord goals.

Upcoming plans:

  • Finalise and approve work to enable the implementation process for the new investment strategy to start.