Bold plans to tackle the University’s carbon footprint

The University is developing a plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030—the first New Zealand university to plan for such an ambitious target.

Work has begun to develop key parts of the plan, which will bring together operational performance, academic opportunities, and a strong connection to Wellington city’s own carbon-reduction plan.

“The University is wholly committed to playing its part in fighting climate change through our world-leading research, and we want to match that in the actions we take as a university,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford. “We need to be ambitious if the world is to avert the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change. There is a pressing need for universities like ours to lead change and to enhance societal commitment to sustainability through our teaching and research.”

Sustainability director Andrew Wilks says the University has reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the past decade despite increasing staff and student numbers. Getting to
net-zero carbon will require more innovative approaches and increased commitment from the University as a leader in climate action.

“It will mean increasing investment in our existing and future campus infrastructure and facilities, offsetting air travel, and investment in forestry projects to sequester carbon, enhance biodiversity, and involve our community with planting trees that anchor us to the city,” says Andrew. “It provides a platform to connect our academic expertise with the operational practices of the University through living labs, scholarships, and enhanced research outcomes across the University.”