This section is based on the latest available data from the Estates Management Record (EMR), which is made publicly available by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, HESA.
As well as monitoring institutions’ carbon management plans and targets the People & Planet University League aims to track actual performance in reducing emissions. This criteria recognises those institutions whose ‘low-carbon transition pathway’ indicate they are delivering carbon reductions in line with the sector-wide cuts required. As in previous years, the People & Planet University League awards scores according to how closely an institution’s actual carbon reductions are to the linear trajectory that an institution would need to take to reduce emissions by 43% by 2020/21 from a 2005/6 baseline. For the 2023/24 People & Planet University League, universities will be assessed against their progress towards the previous trajectory of 2.87% per year.
One of the most frequently discussed criteria within the methodology is the metric related to carbon emissions per head. In 2013, universities called for a metric that considered more than their numbers of students and staff when comparing efforts in carbon reduction.
The key aspects considered were;
University growth / change over time
Size and number of buildings
Comparing like for like
In collaboration with staff from a range of universities, People & Planet modeled and analysed several alternative approaches which aimed to normalise some of the data relating to carbon emission metrics. The new metric below is a result of the final model, agreed by the oversight group of university estates and environment staff to be a better approach than the metric used in previous years.
The allocation of scores for this section is based on two different measurements of carbon emissions using data from the latest Estates Management Record (EMR): We compare the change in carbon (CO2e) intensity at the same institution over the previous year, and the total emissions reductions against the 2005/6 baseline.
Both parts to this criteria use Scope 1 and 2 total CO2e emissions from the EMR data. This excludes significant other indirect emissions, for example from procurement, travel or flying.
In previous years, People & Planet has re-calculated all emissions for every UK university using the consumption (scope 1 & 2 related) figures taken from the EMR to produce a total emissions figure because historically there were consistency and accuracy problems with the EMR dataset. We believe that these problems have now been fully addressed and this enables us for the first time to use the totals provided by the universities directly.
Accommodation is often a large part of an institution’s total emissions. After consultation with university representatives, emissions arising from university maintained accommodation will continue to be included in this criterion, however in presentation of the figures on the final public score cards we will include a clear note stating what proportion of the institution’s emissions are related to its accommodation provision, so that viewers of the data can get a better understanding of what is behind the figure.
Reducing carbon emissions are critical to mitigating the climate catastrophe. This section was considered as part of the review and any developments are the result of an in-depth consultation across a wide range of institutions, who together reached agreement that these changes represented a good step forward in being a useful way to compare institutions and encourage low carbon futures.