Publication Release Date: May 9, 2021
Date Posted: May 28, 2021
Submitted by: Tessie Devlin
Sustainability Topic: Energy
Content Type: Publications
Publisher: Elsevier
Periodical Name: Journal of Cleaner Production
Type: Journal Article


We investigate the progress of the UK universities in greening their energy sources in line with the UK's goal of becoming a net-zero economy by 2050. Using the HESA estate management data for 116 universities over 2012-13 to 2018–19, we employ a Log Mean Divisa Index decomposition method within an extended Kaya identity framework to decouple the changes in total carbon emissions from a range of variables, with a special focus on the impact of different energy sources on energy use and carbon efficiency measures. Overall, between 2012-13 and 2018–19, universities have reduced emissions by 29% although their energy consumption remained mostly stable, implying that these reductions mostly stemmed from reductions in emission coefficient effect (which measures carbon efficiency of energy generation) by 24% and energy intensity effect by 25%. Consistently, estimated correlation coefficients confirm that emission coefficient, intensity, and affluence effects are major contributors behind the annual change in total emissions, with estimated correlation coefficients being 0.42, 0.66, and −0.24, respectively. The share of renewable energy sources was reduced by 2.2%, which is a major reason, in addition to increased number of students, behind the sector's overall failure achieve the 2020 goal of reducing emissions by 43% from the 2005 level. Finally, our results also expose considerable regional variations in mitigating and worsening factors behind emissions that calls for stronger coordination and supervision by policymakers.