Carbon Management Planning in UK Universities: A Journey to Low Carbon Built Environment
Climate change and increasing carbon emissions are the biggest challenges for the modern world. Organisations are facing increasing pressure from governments and stakeholders to reduce carbon emissions. The Higher Education (HE) sector has a huge environmental, social and economic impact. In 2012–13, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) consumed 7.9 billion kWh of energy and emitted 2.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions, which strengthens the role of universities in implementing carbon management for a low carbon built environment. The HE sector is not exempt from implementing carbon management strategies and respond to the UK government’s Climate Change Act by developing its own targets in England, which are in line with the national targets—80% reduction by 2050 and 34% by 2020 from the 1990 baseline. This indicates the scale of the challenge to implement carbon management through effective planning procedures. The aim of this paper is to explore the key elements of the carbon management planning process in UK universities and identify potential areas of improvements. This exploratory study adopted a qualitative and inductive research approach. The data were collected through the content analysis of eighteen universities’ carbon management plans (CMPs). The study found that key elements of carbon management planning are senior management leadership, carbon footprinting, carbon reduction targets, stakeholder engagement, funding and resources, governance and evaluation and reporting. Universities have shown policy commitment and developed CMPs for implementation, but the performance of universities varies significantly. There is also a disconnect between planning and delivery. The findings of this research show that CMPs can be valuable tools to assist universities in their carbon management journey. However, weaknesses are identified in the current design of CMPs, for example, overly focusing on the technical issues of carbon management (to the detriment of socio-technical factors), unsupportive of stakeholder engagement, not aligned with core policies and strategies and being static documents. CMPs are not comprehensive with regard to the operational boundary of carbon emissions and need standard approach for measuring, targeting and reporting. This study will be useful to academics and practitioners aiming to improve carbon management planning in universities and other organisations.
Citation : Mazhar M.U., Bull R., Lemon M. and Ahmad S.B.S. (2019) Carbon Management Planning in UK Universities: A Journey to Low Carbon Built Environment. In: Leal Filho W., Leal-Arcas R. (eds) University Initiatives in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation. Springer, Cham
ISBN : 9783319895895
Research Institute : Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)
Peer Reviewed : Yes