LSE to become carbon-neutral for this academic year

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has committed to achieving carbon neutrality for the 2020-2021 academic year, in what it claims is a first in the UK's higher education space.

LSE to become carbon-neutral for this academic year

LSE has reduced its direct carbon footprint by more than one-third since 2005

Emissions from Scope 1 (direct) sources like water and waste will be covered by the commitment, as well as Scope 2 (power-related) emissions and Scope 3 emissions from business travel.

LSE said in a statement that it has already invested in measures to reduce emissions from these sources, which are, at present, all of the sources measured. The carbon footprint of its direct operations was 38% lower in 2019 than in 2005 – largely because of investments in insulation, building energy management systems, water efficiency technologies and low-energy lighting. LSE has also transitioned to 100% renewable electricity.

The University is tackling residual emissions by purchasing carbon credits that fund carbon offsetting projects. It said it will only source offsets through verified schemes.

In the longer-term, LSE had already committed to achieving net-zero by 2050 at the latest. It is currently developing a roadmap for delivery, which will reveal whether it is able to publicly commit to an earlier deadline. It sees investment in nature-based solutions which sequester carbon in the UK as part of its journey to net-zero.

Sustainability Strategic Plan

LSE’s emissions commitments form part of a wider Sustainability Strategic Plan, published today (21 October). It is headlined by a vision to generate no negative impacts across the entire environmental agenda.

In recognition of the fact that LSE’s environmental impact spans beyond its operations – as is the case for all UK universities – the Plan contains commitments to embed sustainability in research, teaching and learning and the University’s investment decisions.

On the latter, the strategy outlines plans to transition to fund managers who use frameworks like the Transition Pathway Initiative’s (TPI) due diligence processes on climate impact and to disclose information in line with the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment. Many universities have faced mounting calls from green groups to divest entirely from high emitters.

Also included in the Sustainability Strategic Plan are measures to support policymakers ahead of COP26; to advise organisations across the world on alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to ring-fence funding for sustainability-related research.

LSE developed the Plan in what it describes as “full consultation” with the University’s community. The Students’ Union, staff groups and student societies were involved in events, workshops and an online survey.

“The climate and ecological crisis affect us all and we can only tackle them by working together,” LSE Students Union’s environment and ethics officer Saskia Straub said.

“LSE’s sustainability consultation opened opportunities to all members of the School, and in particular students, to have their say and influence decision-making. This has set strong foundations for continued collaboration and involvement of the LSE community on this critical agenda.”

Hear from LSE at edie’s Net-Zero Live

There’s less than a month to go until Net-Zero Live 2020. Taking place over three days (November 10-12) in a virtual format, this event includes high-level keynote talks, interactive panel discussions, facilitated networking sessions and educational masterclasses, as well as virtual exhibition booths showcasing the cutting-edge net-zero technologies and services that will shape the decade ahead.

Register now to hear from representatives of Unilever, the Committee on Climate Change, Inter Ikea Group and many more. LSE’s head of sustainability Charles Joly will be speaking on Day Three. Click here for registration forms and for the agenda

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie