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 operational carbon emissions encapsulate electricity, gas and water consumed; business travel; waste generated; and f-gas (fluorinated gases).  To plan our work towards our net zero carbon target we have used our 2018/19 academic year as our updated baseline. During the baseline 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%)

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted our operational carbon emissions. At the end of our 2020/21 academic year we reported operational emissions totaling 3,522.9 tCO2e.  The 2020/21 total includes 388.8 tCO2e associated with staff working from home (following Scottish Government guidance). We expect our operational emissions to increase again within our 2021/22 academic year. As working and studying practices develop in time, including an increase in hybrid working, we will work collectively with our peers and the Scottish Government to measure carbon impact accordingly. All updated figures will be publicly reported.

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 (pre Covid-19)
  • 7,000 tCO2e as a result of the term-time student commute (pre Covid-19)
  • 1,000 tCO2e through our investments

As per our University Strategy commitments, we will act on reducing wider emissions as well as our operational emissions.

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 2020/21 can be found on the Sustainable Scotland Network website. The reports cover carbon information as well as wider governance, planning, adaptation and procurement background and overview of our work and commitments. Our 2021/22 will be submitted to the Scottish Government by the end of November 2022.

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 have 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 will support 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.