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 a commitment within our University Strategy to achieve net zero carbon in our operations by 2030 at the latest.  We have also committed to minimising our wider and legacy carbon footprint and influence sustainable practices within and beyond our campuses.

Our carbon and wider commitments are explained and planned within our Environmental Sustainability Strategy published in December 2021. This includes key performance indicators to measure our progress.

Operational Carbon Emissions

Our University Strategy carbon and wider environmental sustainability commitments are structured and explained within our Environmental Sustainability Strategy.  

Our operational carbon emission encapsulate electricity, natural gas and water consumed; business travel; waste generated; and f gas (fluorinated gases). Our operational emissions encompass all residential and non-residential buildings.  To plan our work towards our net zero carbon target we have used our 2018/19 academic year as our updated baseline. Our operational emissions covering our 2018/19, 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years are noted below.

The Covid-19 pandemic significantly impacted our operational carbon emissions, notably emissions associated with business travel and electricity consumption.  Looking ahead, our 2023/24 emissions will be available in September and publicly reported in November 2024.  We expect our 2023/24 operational emissions to increase from the 2022/23 emissions noted below, principally due to increased carbon associated with business travel and electricity as our campuses are used more following the pandemic.

All carbon calculations are made using carbon conversion factors and wider advice provided by the Scottish Government.  We will continue to work collaboratively with the government and partner organisations to ensure accurate, transparent and publicly available carbon reporting.

For a copy of all annual reports submitted to the Scottish Government between 2014/15 and 2022/23 visit the Sustainable Scotland Network website
Carbon (tCO2e)
2018/19 2021/22 2022/23
Electricity 2093.7 1314.4 1517.4
Natural Gas 1835.8 1855.7 1914.5
Water 22.1 6.0 7.4
F Gas 0.0 0.0 4.6
Travel (business)  2463.3 234.1 1169.0
Waste  7.7 4.4 6.2
 Total 6422.6 3414.6 4619.1

Wider Carbon Emissions

We estimate that within a typical academic year as a community we emit:

  • 12,000 tCO2e by procuring goods and services
  • 7,000 tCO2e as a result of the day-to-day staff and student commute
  • 7,000 tCO2e as a result of the term-time student commute
Within our University Strategy we have committed that "we will also seek to minimise both our wider and legacy carbon footprint and influence sustainable practices within and beyond our campuses".

Legacy Carbon Emissions

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

Reporting Carbon Emissions

We monitor carbon and wider environmental sustainability impact through a variety of means.As a public body in Scotland, the University is legislatively required to submit an array of information to the Scottish Government on an annual basis.  Our annual reports from 2014/15 to 2022/23 can be found on the Sustainable Scotland Network websiteThe reports cover carbon information as well as wider governance, planning, adaptation and procurement background and overview of our work and commitments. Our 2022/23 report will be submitted to the Scottish Government by the end of November 2024.

Our carbon emissions are also reported annually through the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Estates Management Record (EMR) as well as to other bodies such as the Scottish Funding Council.

To ensure our reportable data is accurate, we employ the services of an external body to audit of our electricity, gas and water invoices against all half hourly and other meter readings.We internally audit all business travel, f-gas and waste data provided by our contracted partners to ensure we are confident that all reported carbon emissions are accurate.

Carbon Offset

To achieve our net zero carbon target we will utilise ethical carbon offset.In the long term we will address our legacy carbon emissions through ethical offset.Our Environmental Sustainability Strategy includes detailed information on our offset approach (information within the ESS from page six).In order of priority we will:

A: Reduce operational emissions through the embedment of best practice and further development of projects within our operational boundary.

B: Use our influence and position as a thought leader to work with our community, partners, stakeholders and wider society to reduce their emissions.

C: Offset emissions that we cannot avoid or legacy emissions that we have already produced through projects that are verifiable, fair and bring benefits in addition to carbon reduction.


We host world-leading carbon offset and nature-based expertise.Prof Mark Huxham within our School of Applied Sciences alongside other colleagues within Edinburgh Napier is a key partner of the Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services.Within the 2021/22 academic year the University Leadership Team agreed to support ACES and the development of the Vanga Blue Forest to secure ethical offset opportunities that we are confident with and comfortable to use in forthcoming years. The investment supports significant community leadership as well as support further academic and research development.

Carbon History

We have proven our success historically.Carbon emissions associated with the use of electricity, gas and water at our campuses 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.

Achieving Net Zero Carbon

As part of Climate Week Scotland 2019, we invited Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Richard Dixon to our Craiglockhart campus to talk about the climate crisis and what actions we have to take in order to become net zero carbon.

Watch Edinburgh Napier's Professor Mark Huxham introduce this very special guest lecture which talks about our responsibilities in meeting our targets and achieving net zero carbon, as individuals, as a university and as a country.