University of Portsmouth takes a step closer to becoming climate positive in next 10 years

A 60 percent reduction in its carbon footprint during the past decade is just one of the successes announced by the University of Portsmouth at a recent Climate Action and Sustainability event for staff.

The University has pledged to work with students, staff and partners to work towards becoming a climate positive university by 2030. The aim is to save more greenhouse gases than are being generated.

Many organisations, including the UK Government, have committed to net zero emissions by 2050. However, our aim of becoming climate positive goes further and recognises that urgent action is needed in the next 10 years to tackle the climate emergency.

We will work with our staff, students and partners locally and around the world to actively promote long-term environmental sustainability, raising the quality of life in our community.

Bernie Topham, Chief Operating Officer & Deputy Vice-Chancellor, says: “Our ambition of becoming a climate positive university by 2030 impacts every aspect of our activities and operations – from development of our campus and sustainable transportation, to sustainable corporate systems and procedures. We will work with our staff, students and partners locally and around the world to actively promote long-term environmental sustainability, raising the quality of life in our community.”

As part of this drive to make a positive impact on the planet, University staff are now being offered a new Carbon Literacy course led by the Revolutions Plastics team. It starts this week and will help staff understand climate change, our carbon footprint and how to reduce it, and encourage participants to take action themselves.

The University has been working hard to reduce its current carbon footprint since 2009. Carbon emissions from electricity, gas, water, and waste and fleet vehicle use have fallen by 60 percent in the last decade. In a typical building most of the energy use comes from heating, ventilation and air conditioning; followed by lighting and other equipment like PCs. By focusing on these areas, big improvements have been made. For example switching from old style lighting to LED lighting can halve lighting energy use and associated carbon emissions.

It’s fantastic to see an increase in demand for plant based meals across campus and we are working with our local suppliers to source more interesting ingredients to create food that will attract vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian customers.

Work has also been done by the University Catering Team to make the food and drink offered more sustainable. Around 40 percent of the food served is now plant-based, with 90 per cent of beef products removed from sale. Even more plant-based products will be stocked in response to growing demand from staff and students. Where possible, many of the ingredients are sourced locally to reduce food miles. For example, milk served at the University comes from a dairy near Romsey in Hampshire and tomatoes are sourced from the Isle of Wight.

Nick Leach, Head of Catering Services at the University of Portsmouth said: “It’s fantastic to see an increase in demand for plant based meals across campus and we are working with our local suppliers to source more interesting ingredients to create food that will attract both vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian customers. Good both for the plant and our health.”

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