Our carbon target is based on our commitment to playing our part in delivering the City of Manchester science-based carbon budget and associated zero carbon date of 2038.

The Manchester target was developed with researchers from our own Tyndall Centre. While the headline figure of zero carbon by 2038 is often used as shorthand, for our target to be ‘science-based’ it must be used in conjunction with the total carbon budget. Therefore, it is about the absolute amount of carbon we emit on our path to zero, not just the date we hit zero.

We believe that all organisations and residents in Manchester need to be part of a collective effort to meet our targets and commits to contribute by:

  • Acting now, including accelerating our existing decarbonisation activities, wherever possible.
  • Taking responsibility for the CO2 emissions from our business activities and working to reduce them to zero by 2038.
  • Supporting and influencing others to take action.
  • Defining the support we need and proactively asking for it, including asking politicians for policy changes wherever relevant.

Work to progress the University towards our zero carbon target is currently underway, with the following principles agreed:-

  1. We will make urgent reductions in the first five years, reducing carbon emissions from a 2018 baseline of 54,000 tCO2 to at least 21,000 tCO2 by 2025.
  2. All members of the University of Manchester community will understand the problem of climate change in order to make better decisions in their working lives.
  3. The carbon impact of University activities is part of all strategic decision-making.

We are also signatories to Race to Zero which demonstrates our commitment to this target. Our report outlines the progress towards these comments.

We are perfectly placed to support the UK in reducing carbon emissions, from the operations of our research, our teaching, our people and our estate.

We are at the forefront of the search for solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, including carbon reduction and climate change, and we are pioneering the energy systems of the future so that we can continue to heat our homes, light our buildings and travel.


We have ended our investments in coal, oil and gas and reduced the carbon intensity of our investments by 37%. Our 2021 Responsible Investment Report confirms that we have ended investment in fossil fuel companies and has exceeded our target of reducing the carbon intensity of our other holdings.

In 2020 we set out our new Policy for Socially Responsible Investment in which we promised to divest from fossil fuel companies and go further – by gradually decarbonising our entire investment portfolio.

The 2021 update confirms this divestment and that we have exceeded our 30% carbon intensity reduction target, achieving a 37% reduction. The ambition is to reduce this to net zero by 2038 at the latest, in alignment with the University’s and city’s overall zero carbon commitments. Our targets to 2027 (baseline year 2019) are:

• 50% reduction in the weighted average carbon intensity of the public equity allocation by 2027
• 40% reduction in the weighted average carbon intensity of the fixed income allocation by 2027
• 10% reduction in energy consumption and 100% renewable energy use in the property allocation by 2027.

The report also confirms that we have no holdings in companies producing tobacco, controversial weapons and those with the lowest environmental, social and governance rating.

Renewable energy

We are delighted to announce a significant step-change in our move towards sustainable forms of energy at the University. Working in partnership with our energy brokers we have been able to switch our commitment towards 100% renewable energy.

Scope 3

Scope 3 emissions include all the carbon associated with our purchasing of goods and services, investments, student and staff travel, waste and the energy used by staff when working off-campus. We have calculated our Scope 3 carbon footprint however further work is currently in progress to make this more accurate and to include all 15 categories under the GHG Protocol. We are also developing a plan on how to achieve net zero in this area. We have far less influence and control over much of our Scope 3 emissions, but we are still responsible for them and they will far exceed our direct emissions from buildings and use of fleet vehicles.


Did you know?

The University of Manchester is the first university in the world to have been recognised as a carbon literate organisation.