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#LockdownClimateChange: impact of COVID-19 on carbon footprint

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To mark Earth Day today (22 April), the University of Reading is highlighting how its own institutional sustainability activity could change once the coronavirus lockdown has been lifted, and showing how researchers across key areas consider the opportunities for action on climate change in other parts of society. You can read more about this in our separate news story

Last week, we reported a 44% reduction in the University’s carbon footprint. This was recorded at the end of January 2020, before University operations were scaled down in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The closure of campus and estates will undoubtedly have an impact on the University’s carbon output for the remainder of the year, but nevertheless, the decrease in emissions since last summer is an encouraging sign of the positive actions taken so far.

Once university life resumes after government measures are lifted, the remainder of the year will essentially make way for a ‘new normal’ emissions rate to be established in 2021/22. It is anticipated that when this ‘new normal’ point is reached, the University will have far exceeded its 45% reduction target.

Of the many lessons to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, one particularly interesting aspect for the University to investigate will be whether any extra measures could be taken to further affect its impact on the environment.

It has an opportunity to:


  • Better understand residual energy consumption while buildings are closed and gain new insight into energy demand as campus and estates gradually reopen.
  • Review the scope for remote or flexible working, such as sharing workspaces and hosting online meetings.
  • Gain insight into delivering teaching online and explore potential opportunities and possibilities.
  • Consider how travel to and from campus could be reduced, such as working and/or teaching remotely. Also improve monitoring of travel to better understand its effect on carbon emissions.

You can read more about the University's ambitions and our new #LOCKDOWNCLIMATECHANGE campaign in this news story

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