Carbon offsetting is a process whereby carbon or carbon-equivalent gases are removed from the atmosphere, or prevented from entering it, in order to compensate for greenhouse gases emitted elsewhere.
The strategy prioritises reducing our own emissions to minimise the need for offsets before starting to use offsetting from 2030 onwards. This is consistent with the Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting. We target to reduce our direct carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, and to cap offsets by not introducing them until 2030.
It will not be possible to eliminate all our emissions, so we will eventually need to rely on carbon offsetting to balance the residual emissions and reach net zero carbon. Numerous offsetting options are available, with more being researched and developed. We will regularly review our offsetting options to reflect this.
Biodiversity offsetting involves undertaking conservation and restoration activities to enhance biodiversity, to compensate for negative effects on biodiversity elsewhere. In the University’s case, these impacts arise from its development, estate management, operations and supply chain.
Following the same principles as in carbon emissions, we will prioritise avoiding and reducing the harm we do to biodiversity in preference to biodiversity offsetting. It will not be possible to do this completely, though, and we will need to carry out proactive conservation actions to achieve biodiversity net gain.
We will develop a policy to guide our carbon and biodiversity offsetting activities, which will go through governance like all interventions.