“Achieving that switch from coal will reduce our greenhouse gas profile significantly,” Professor Evans-Freeman says, “so the focus now is on reducing emissions in other areas, which may be more difficult to achieve.”
Another main source of emissions for the university is air travel.
“Networking is incredibly important in academia and academics build their networks by attending and giving talks at conferences and other events,” Professor Evans-Freeman says.
“While the pandemic has seen some conferences move online, research shows they are less effective in terms of growing your professional networks.
“The real challenge will come as Covid-19 travel restrictions are relaxed - we know there will be a pent-up demand and we also know attending conferences and events is ingrained in the academic psyche,” she says.
“That’s why, instead of imposing a strict carbon budget or simply a blanket travel ban, our approach is to bring our community along with us. That means encouraging our people to look at options that contribute to both the University’s emissions reduction targets and their professional objectives - for example, travelling less frequently but staying for longer.”
The University has set targets to reduce air travel by 5 per cent per annum, taking 2019 as the base year.
Along with a reduction in emissions, UC is also sequestering an increasing amount of carbon on its land through its forest plantation.
ANZ New Zealand Managing Director of Business Banking Lorraine Mapu says seeing large customers like UC making progress towards their emission-reduction goals is encouraging.
“We are increasingly seeing businesses of all sizes making changes to their operations to meet their environmental goals and this aligns well with both stakeholder expectations (and) those of consumers.
“The scale of the work being undertaken by the university is obviously large, and ANZ is in the process of rolling out new products to support projects like these at a business level.”
The development of its sustainability strategy was driven by a wide range of stakeholders, Professor Evans-Freeman says.
“Our leadership is committed to continuous improvements and students told us they wanted the university to become more sustainable. For us, it’s integral to our purpose, in terms of the way we operate, preparing our students for a more sustainable future, and contributing to research that enables it.
“It’s vital that we can show we are ‘walking the talk’ in terms of our own emissions reductions.”
This article was originally published by ANZ News New Zealand