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​Net Zero Carbon 2030

We have a strong track record of reducing our carbon and overall environmental impact at Edinburgh Napier, but we know we can go further. That's why we've made the commitment that we will achieve net zero carbon in our operations by 2030 at the latest. We will also seek to minimise both our wider and legacy carbon footprint and also influence sustainable practices within and beyond our campuses.


Our operational carbon emissions encapsulate electricity, gas and water consumed, business travel, waste generated and f-gas (fluorinated gases). The University monitors environmental impact through a variety of means. As a public body in Scotland, Edinburgh Napier is legislatively required to submit an array of information to the Scottish Government annually. Our reports can be found on the Sustainable Scotland Network website.

Reports cover carbon and wider environmental impact associated with business travel, electricity, gas, waste and water as well as a wider overview of governance arrangements, projects carried out and planned and also action towards sustainable procurement and adaptation. To publicly report both qualitative and quantitative information, ongoing audits of impact are collated.

To set and work towards our net zero carbon target we have used our 2018/19 academic financial year as a baseline. During the year our operational emissions accounted for 6,422 tCO2e.

  • Electricity: 2,093.7 tCO2e (32.6%)
  • Gas: 1,835.8 tCO2e (28.6%)
  • Transport 2,463.3 tCO2e (38.4%)
  • Waste 7.7 tCO2e (0.12%)
  • Water 22.1 tCO2e (0.3%)

To meet our commitment to net zero carbon, we are developing a detailed Environmental Sustainability Strategy with key performance indicators in place to measure our progress.

Our plan will include the use and promotion of ethical offsetting. This is to deal with emissions that, in the short term, we cannot eliminate. In the long term, we will also offset legacy carbon, acknowledging our contribution to historical emissions and taking action to address that. Ethical offsetting means a firm commitment to three actions, in order of priority:

  1. First, reducing our own emissions.
  2. Second, using our influence and position as a thought leader to help our partners, stakeholders and wider society to reduce their emissions.
  3. Third, offsetting emissions that we cannot avoid or have already produced through projects that are verifiable, fair and bring benefits in addition to carbon reduction.

We host world-leading expertise in using offsetting to fund nature-based solutions through projects developed and run by our staff and students. This means we know how offsetting money spent in these projects is used for the benefit of nature and people.

We have proven our success historically. For instance, carbon emissions associated with the use of electricity, gas and water at our campuses has reduced by 65% between our 2006/07 baseline and 2019/20. Our measured reduction is amongst some of the highest recorded within all UK universities.

We measure our operational carbon impact using guidance from the Scottish Government along with data from a wide range of service suppliers to the University. Our electricity, gas and water data is audited externally to ensure what we report is accurate.

Data covering our 2019/20 academic financial year (August 2019 to July 2020) was presented to the Scottish Government at the end of November 2020. As mentioned above, you can find our report on the Sustainable Scotland Network website. Our reported operational emissions reduced significantly in 2019/20 due to the impact of Covid-19.

Our 2020/21 year will end on 31 of July 2021. We expect to report significant reductions again. As the impact of Covid-19 continues, we'll investigate with peers how we can purposefully start to consider and measure the carbon impact of studying and working from home.

Wider and Legacy Carbon Emissions

Our commitments also cover wider and legacy carbon emissions. In terms of wider emissions, we estimate that as a University community on an annual basis we emit:

  • 12,000 tCO2e by procuring goods and services
  • 7,000 tCO2e as a result of the day-to-day student and staff commute (pre Covid-19)
  • 7,000 tCO2e through the term-time commute
  • 1,000 tCO2e through our investments

We have committed to acting on these emissions as well as our operational emission.

In terms of legacy emissions, through good reporting over recent years we have a good understanding of the carbon we have emitted as an organisation. We will action legacy emissions through different means, including working towards negative carbon emissions.​

For a breakdown of our 2018/19 operational emissions with all wider emissions added, please download our Carbon Scope PowerPoint document​.