The Bartlett


The Bartlett Target – net zero by 2030

1 October 2021

The Bartlett announces target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2030.

Bird's eye view of a forest

Addressing climate change requires urgent action at every level. International agreements and the policies of national governments are of course essential – but so too are the commitments and activities of individuals and organisations. Universities are influential thought-leaders and have a significant role to play.

At The Bartlett, our research and teaching is offering crucial solutions to help society cut greenhouse gas emissions and to improve resilience to the impacts of climate change. But we also want to demonstrate our commitment and pave the way forward through cutting our own emissions.

Why this target?

In order to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the world as a whole must reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In many parts of the world, meeting this mid-century target at the same time as achieving broader social and economic development will be extremely challenging. But those who can should aim to cut further, and faster.

UCL has already committed to become a net-zero carbon institution by 2030. Our faculty-level target aligns with this commitment. In adopting it, The Bartlett endorses the principle that organisations in cities and countries that have benefitted from centuries of fossil fuel use should now lead the way to a net-zero future.

What is net zero?

“Net zero” allows for the possibility that there may be some activities that we can’t decarbonise directly, and which can only be compensated for by finding ways to remove equivalent quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere. But if such CO2 removal measures are used, they must meet the highest standards of verifiability and sustainability; and the priority should always be preventing emissions in the first place, rather than trying to clean them up later.

How will we go about reaching our target?

Achieving this target is not going to be easy. It will not be met through superficial alterations. Rather, it demands deep reflection and committed action. We will approach this task in a manner that befits the rigour of our academic research, turning ourselves into a living experiment on what it means for organisations to get to net zero.

We commit to the following principles:

  • Comprehensiveness: we will think seriously about where the boundaries of our emissions lie, and will not put activities out of scope simply because they seem too difficult to address.
  • Transparency: we will regularly review and communicate on our progress – not only our successes, but our failures too.
  • Reduction before offset: whilst we accept that ethical CO2 removal may be a part of reaching net zero, we will always prioritise reducing our own emissions, and will not simply buy our way out of the problem with poorly accredited offsetting schemes.

Professor Christoph Lindner, Dean of The Bartlett, said:

“The climate crisis is a global emergency and it’s crucial we act immediately. The Bartlett’s commitment to net zero by 2030 supports the UCL-wide pledge and demonstrates our ambition to lead by example and enact new and creative solutions to build a greener and sustainable future for all.”

The Bartlett will provide updates every 2 months on progress made and the challenges faced via a blog led by Dr Nick Hughes, Senior Research Fellow at The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources and The Bartlett’s lead for Climate Action. The blog will look to delve into a variety of areas such as setting boundaries; decarbonising buildings; the challenges of travel; net-zero procurement and construction; sustainable offsetting; and more, as we progress on this journey.

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