Climate Plan Update:

November 2021 to May 2022

A decorative graphic with yellow and purple shapes that look like sunbeams

Collaboration will be key to delivering our Climate Plan and one of our principle aims in outlining our progress is to enable the University community to work together on addressing the climate crisis.

This first report aims to update the University community on progress made since the Climate Plan was approved by our Council in November 2021.

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

It will also outline the development of the Climate Plan governance structure.

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

Delivering Net Zero by 2030

A decorative graphic with blue shapes that look like sunbeams

Work completed so far:

  • Conducted detailed feasibility studies across four large University buildings, and commenced studies across a further 21 buildings to assess the opportunities for building retrofit and heat pump installation.
  • Commenced detailed feasibility studies to identify the potential for solar panel installations on University roofs.
  • Completed a study to measure the escape of greenhouse gas emissions from air-conditioning units, in order to allow us to include measurement of this in our scope 1 emissions (see definitions that follow).
  • Commissioned a survey to identify opportunities to invest in offsite renewable energy generation earlier than proposed in our Net Zero pathway to decarbonise a significant proportion of our energy use.

Upcoming plans:

  • Begin upgrade programme replacing lights with low energy LED lighting.
  • Commence detailed analysis of electricity requirements over the next 30 years to support decarbonisation of energy.
  • Carry out analysis of supply chain emissions to enable identification of interventions to reduce emissions.
  • Commission a report into climate resilience on campus.
  • Publish new heating, cooling and ventilation policy to reduce energy use.

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 figures are shown separately for the two periods covered by this report.


  • Previous year (2020/21): 13,385
  • This year (2021/22): 13,750
  • Difference: 3% increase


  • Previous year (2020/21): 12,633
  • This year (2021/22): 11,708
  • Difference: 7% decrease

These figures were updated in August 2022 following the validation of energy bills. These updates report a decrease in tCO2e of 617 compared to the figures first published.

Achieving sustainable travel

A decorative graphic with green shapes that look like sunbeams

Work completed so far:

  • Tender in progress to appoint a consultant to carry out a participatory process that will map out how we can effectively and fairly reduce business travel emissions.
  • Developed strategy for replacing the current vehicle fleet with electric vehicles, and commenced replacement programme with first six vehicles on order.
  • Completed the staff and student annual travel survey with a view to update commuting emissions figures and inform future strategies.
  • Met with external partners including Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to start discussions about improving transport coming into the University and Hospital.
  • Started discussions with Leeds City Council to determine locations for E-Bike docking stations on campus, as part of the new Leeds E-Bike Scheme.

Upcoming plans:

  • Conclude tender process for participatory process and develop framework for programme with successful partner.
  • Publish updated interim guidance on how to reduce business travel emissions.
  • Further develop our plans for electric vehicle charging on campus.

Supporting a Net Zero city

A decorative graphic with yellow shapes that look like sunbeams

Work completed so far:

  • Held initial meetings to support the development of activities including Living Labs, Positive Impact Partnerships, and interactions with the Leeds Climate Commission and Yorkshire and Humberside Climate Commission.
  • Started work on the University’s progression framework and led carbon footprint baselining across the Leeds Anchors Network – a group of the largest, mainly public sector employers in Leeds.
  • Started to develop a framework to evaluate the impact of initiatives and to support a just transition.

Upcoming plans:

  • Continue to develop the projects started this quarter.
  • Start the recruitment process for the identified resource requirements.

Shaping institutional decision making

A decorative graphic with purple shapes that look like sunbeams

Work completed so far:

  • Agreed the format of the environmental value assessment that strategic decisions will be reviewed against and the decision-making boards that will use it.

Upcoming plans:

  • Aim to introduce the use of the environmental value assessment to decision-making boards.

Reorienting research and teaching

A decorative graphic with orange shapes that look like sunbeams

Work completed so far:

  • Established Geosolutions Leeds, a centre that brings together scientists and engineers at the University of Leeds, to further our understanding of the central role geosciences will play in our low carbon transition, underpinning future energy generation, storage and consumption.
  • Started a review of opportunities around the University Farm Observatory and Demonstrator.
  • Started to develop a framework to evaluate the impact of initiatives and to support just transitions.

Upcoming plans:

  • Start the process of mapping the opportunities and capabilities across the full reorientation portfolio.

Providing a sustainable curriculum

A decorative graphic with pink shapes that look like sunbeams

Work completed so far:

  • Engaged in the Curriculum Redefined (CR) project, including the mapping project, Surfacing Skills project and the associated professional development needs of the teaching community.
  • Secured a Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence Fellowship due to start in July 2022. The Fellow will explore the pedagogy of embedding sustainability in the curriculum.
  • Started the recruitment outlined in the resource plan.
  • Continued the Leeds University Business School sustainable curriculum pilot, led by Professor Vera Trappmann.
  • Contributed to the organisation of the Student Sustainability Research Conference held on 8 June 2022.

Upcoming plans:

  • Work with Organisational Development and Professional Learning colleagues to embed sustainability into new roles.
  • Develop plans for a new interdisciplinary climate programme.

Enabling responsible investment

A decorative graphic with turquoise shapes that look like sunbeams

Work completed so far:

  • Started to model a proposed change in investment strategy in detail.

Upcoming plans:

  • Further develop our plans to enhance our responsible investments based on the completed model.

Climate Plan governance structure

A decorative graphic with yellow and purple shapes that look like sunbeams

We have combined the seven climate principles that make up the Climate Plan into a wide-ranging delivery programme called the Climate Principles Programme.

The Climate Principles Programme Board, a group with overall accountability for delivery, is managing activity and reporting to the University’s Executive Group and its Council.

The Board comprises senior University leadership, including academics and a broad range of stakeholders across staff and student bodies.

Each climate principle has been split into a sub-programme or series of sub-programmes which will report into the board.

Net Zero by 2030, for example, has been split into ten separate sub-programmes because of its scale, and the size of our investment in it. One of these ten is the programme delivering our Sustainable Travel principle, given the important role of business travel and commuting emissions in our Net Zero by 2030 target.

Each principle has an identified a working group, existing University team or programme tasked with supporting the principle’s delivery.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, is University executive sponsor for the delivery of the Climate Plan and is chair of the Climate Principles Programme Board.

I am proud to share what we have done to continue momentum and build on our strong foundations to deliver our Climate Plan since its approval by council.
Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Deputy Vice-Chancellor

He said: “The Climate Principles Programme will provide the structure and governance required to ensure the plan’s delivery and has at its heart one of the University’s core values – collaboration: the programme will be delivered by a combination of professional services and academic colleagues, students, and our wider community across the city.

“This 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 will be a key component to achieving our climate ambitions.

“But we know we’re at the beginning of our journey and that we must act now to meet our commitment to building a fairer and more sustainable future for all. I look forward to sharing our continued progress over the coming months and years.”