Cutting emissions

Why do we need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions now?

Like filling a bath with water, so long as the tap remains open, the bath will eventually be full, and spill over. Our atmosphere is that bath, and we have nearly filled it. At our current rate of emissions we will have used up our entire Carbon budget in the next decade if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C. That is why we are taking action now, and we’re asking you to join us.

What is a carbon budget?

We are committed to rapid action on operational emissions and setting out an ambitious programme towards achieving net zero. We are finalising our global net zero plan which will be published soon. The pathway to NetZero is complex, we want to know how best to navigate it.

Our single largest source of emissions comes from our built environment, with the heating of our Scottish campuses providing our greatest single challenge in achieving net zero operational emissions. We are exploring a number of potential solutions, whilst using digital twins to better understand our energy and heat usage.

Despite significant growth of our largest campus in Edinburgh, we outperformed the carbon reduction targets set by our previous Carbon Management Plan. We report the emissions performance, for our Scotland campuses, annually under the national public bodies Climate Change Duties (PBCCD) reporting process. You can access our reports on the Sustainable Scotland Network website.

What are we doing right now?

LED Light Bulb climate change

We’ve implemented a broad range of energy and carbon reduction projects including LED lighting schemes, with more than 13,000 lights replaced in recent years. Projects have included our early adoption of LED street lighting: the installation at the Edinburgh Campus was completed in 2014 and has saved the equivalent of enough electricity to power a typical home for around 500 years, preventing the emission of hundreds of tonnes of CO2.

Other projects have focussed on improving the energy performance of our buildings by enhancing their fabric, including extensive double-glazing schemes and additional insulation. We have also started to improve the efficiency of our building services, optimising their energy consumption and introducing efficient modern control and delivery technologies. 

Our newer buildings, such as GRID, are heated by heat pumps rather than gas and use integrated renewable energy generation, supporting our transition away from fossil fuels. Our current focus is on accelerating our action to decarbonise our operations, ensuring that we capitalise on our own ground- breaking research and complete detailed planning around some of the technical challenges on our route to net zero.

What are we doing to accelerate decarbonisation and net zero transition in in our research?

We possess leading expertise in enabling the race to net zero, from the development of new fuels and materials to designing efficient buildings of the future. Learn more here.