We will become a zero carbon and zero waste University

The University is taking world-leading climate action to be net zero carbon by 2040.

This includes a package of measures such as:

  • removing investments in fossil fuels
  • establishing a presumption against flights in the United Kingdom
  • investing in its own solar farm
  • and announcing a multi-million-pound commitment to capture and store its unavoidable carbon emissions.

Award recognition

The University’s world-leading climate actions were recognised by the International Sustainable Campus Network, which named the University as the winner of its ‘Whole Systems Approach’ award.

The prize recognises work to reduce carbon emissions, and embed climate and sustainability into research, teaching and governance, operations, and partnerships. This holistic approach to addressing the climate crisis was also recognised in the Green Gown Awards UK and Ireland 2021, with the University winning the ‘2030 Climate Action’ award.

University wins award for Climate Action

Sustainability award win for University

Climate and sustainability survey results

The University completed a Climate and Sustainability Survey in 2021, with three thousand eight hundred staff and students completing the survey. The aim of the survey was to assess student and staff interest in these topics and how these were embedded across the University.

The survey findings highlighted that staff and students had a very strong interest in climate and sustainability. Students wanted more opportunities to engage with these issues through their studies, and more guidance from the University on individual actions they could take. Staff wanted further professional development opportunities on climate and sustainability.

Carbon emissions

Easter Bush solar farm
The University’s long-term objective is to become net zero carbon by 2040. To date, the University has reduced its overall carbon emissions by 19 per cent since the academic year 2007-08, its baseline year.

Energy efficiency

Kings Buildings Combined Heat and Power Station - Guthrie Aerial Photography
Since 2016-17 the University has invested £9 million in 140 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, saving a projected 400 tonnes of CO₂e.

Carbon sequestration

University staff in woods - India Hunkin
The University announced a multi-million-pound, long-term commitment to capture and store its unavoidable carbon emissions and benefit nature, through restoring peatlands and expanding forests in Scotland.


University bike storage - Douglas Robertson
Summary of business travel and staff and student commuting behaviours and impacts on carbon emissions.


Recycling bin at the Edinburgh College of Art
With more staff and students returning to campus following the relaxation of Covid-19 related regulations the volume of waste produced by the University community has increased.


St Abbs Marine Station tank
The University launched its first-ever biodiversity plan that will protect and enhance green spaces on campus, and in the wider community, for all who enjoy them.

Good food

Food at University of Edinburgh Brucks cafe
Good Food is food and drink that is tasty, healthy, good for the environment and good for the people who make it.

Sustainable procurement

Fairtrade University Awards photoshoot Levels Cafe summer 2022. Inflatable bananas read: "appeeling for change"
Achievements around fair trade and modern slavery have been highlighted this year.

Responsible finance

University staff talking - Douglas Robertson
The University is a signatory of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and has set up an Income Due Diligence Group.