2022 Net Zero Tracker and THE Impact Rankings of leading Australian universities

About the Net Zero Tracker of Australian universities by 100% Renewables

Net zero pledges are rapidly gaining momentum as more organisations and governments commit to meeting ambitious emission reduction targets to address climate change.

Universities are among the leading sectors in responding to climate change, and we have been tracking the commitments of Australian universities for several years.

This article revisits the ambitious climate action commitments made by universities and provides an updated list. We also include here the latest update on the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges and report on Australian universities’ performance in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2022.

Free Guide – Net Zero Tracker and THE Impact Rankings of leading Australian universities 2022

Leader board of Australian universities

The list of leading Australian universities with ambitious emission reduction and renewable energy goals has increased from 23 to just 24 at this update, with Victoria University entering into a renewable energy PPA from mid-2021 and setting near-term net zero and climate positive goals.

Out of the 24 universities in the ambitious commitments list, 15 have committed to 100% renewable energy by or before 2030, 17 have committed to carbon neutrality by or before 2030, and 2 have committed to net-zero GHG emissions targets by 2050.


Universities’ net zero, emission reduction and renewable energy commitments

Figure 1: Carbon neutral, net zero and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities as at July 2022 (map)
Figure 1: Carbon neutral, net zero and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities as at July 2022 (map)


List of ambitious climate action commitments by Australian universities

NoStateUniversityRenewable energy CommitmentCarbon neutrality commitment
1ACTAustralian National UniversityCommitted to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to below zero by 2030
Interim target of net-zero emissions by 2025
2NSWAustralian Catholic University100% renewable electricity by July 2021Net zero emissions by 2030
3NSWCharles Sturt University100% clean energy by 2030
Use 100 per cent renewable electricity from 2022
First university to obtain NCOS/Climate Active-accredited carbon neutral status in 2016
4NSWMacquarie UniversityUniversity's total greenhouse gas emissions cut by 92 per cent, with the campus' electricity being sourced from Snowy Hydro from 1 July 2020Aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2030
5NSWUniversity of New South WalesExpand onsite solar energy generation to 1.2 MWp by 2022
Purchase 100% renewable electricity by 2020
Reduce net emissions from building energy use to zero by 2020
Reduce total Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in line with a 1.5°C global warming scenario
6NSWUniversity of NewcastleDeliver 100% renewable electricity across our Newcastle and Central Coast campuses from 1 January 2020Achieve carbon neutrality by 2025
7NSWUniversity of Sydney100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025Net zero emissions by 2030
Zero waste to landfill by 2030
8NSWWestern Sydney University100 per cent renewable energy by 2026Achieve carbon neutrality by 2023 and be climate positive by 2029
9QLDCQ University50 per cent of its energy for its Queensland campuses sourced from renewable solar from 2021Aim at reducing carbon emissions
10QLDGriffith University50% of our campus energy will be supplied from renewable sources by 202245-50% emissions reduction against a 2010 baseline by 2030
Net zero emissions by 2050
11QLDQueensland University of TechnologyReduce energy consumption by 10% from 2017/18 levels of 0.57 GJ/m2 (GFA) by 2023
Maximise deployment of solar PV on campus by 2022
Carbon neutral by 2030 (Scope 1,2,3 emissions)
Scope 1 and 2 emissions to zero by 2023
12QLDUniversity of Queensland100% renewable energy from 2020 via its own solar farmReduction in the university's carbon footprint
13QLDUniversity of the Sunshine CoastLarge-scale solar PV and thermal storage at Sippy Downs campusCarbon neutral by 2025
14SAFlinders UniversityPowering its campuses and facilities with 100% renewable energy from campus-based solar arrays and a local windfarm, achieving net-zero emissions from electricity from 2021Become carbon positive
15SAUniversity of Adelaide2MW of renewable energy installed by 2020
15% reduction in Energy intensity (GJ/GFA m2) by 2020 (2014 baseline)
Net zero emissions by 2050
16TASUniversity of TasmaniaEnsure efficacious energy management and contribute to the Tasmanian Government 2022 target to be a 100% renewable-energy-powered StateCarbon neutral certified since 2016
Committing to full divestment by the end of 2021
17VICDeakin University100% renewable electricity by 2025Carbon neutral by 2025
Carbon negative by 2030
18VICLa Trobe UniversityThe new solar panel system to generate 2.5 MW of clean, renewable electricity as well as renewable energy projects, energy efficiency improvements and waste reduction on campus.Carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022
19VICMonash University100% renewable energy by 2030Net zero carbon emissions from Australian campuses by 2030
20VICRMIT University100% renewable energy from 2019Carbon neutral organisation by 2025, covering scope 1 (direct), scope 2 (indirect) and scope 3 (upstream and downstream supply chain) emissions
21VICSwinburne University of TechnologyProcure 100 per cent renewable electricity from 1 July 2020.Carbon neutral by 2025
22VICUniversity of MelbourneAchieve zero net emissions from electricity by 2021
Reduce electricity demand by 18,350 megawatt hours per year by 2020 through on-campus energy projects.
Carbon neutral certification by 2025 and climate positive status by 2030
Achieve carbon neutrality before 2030
23VICVictoria UniversityProcure 100% renewable electricity on 1 July 2021Achieve Net Zero by 2025
Achieve Net Positive outcomes by 2028
24WAUniversity of Western Australia100% renewable energy by 2025Energy carbon neutral by 2025


Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges

Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. The campaign mobilises a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 1,049 cities, 67 regions, 5,235 businesses, 441 of the biggest investors, and 1,039 Higher Education Institutions.

Since 2019, over 500 higher education institutions representing 4.6 million students, and 60 networks representing more than 17,000 colleges and universities, have committed to be net-zero by 2050 at the latest through the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges.

Below are the Australian universities that are signatories of the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges, in alphabetical order.


1ACTAustralian National University
2NSWUniversity of New South Wales
3NSWUniversity of Technology Sydney
4NSWWestern Sydney University
5TASUniversity of Tasmania
6VICDeakin University
7VICRMIT University
8VICSwinburne University of Technology
9VICUniversity of Melbourne
10VICVictoria University


Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2022, 17 Australian universities were ranked in the top 100 universities globally, and an Australian university tops the overall rankings! Western Sydney University ranks #1 out of 1,406 universities from 106 countries and regions across the globe in the University Impact Rankings of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022, scoring 99.1 out of 100 for their social, ecological and economic impact.

100% Renewables is proud to have worked with WSU on its net zero emissions journey, as well as with University of Newcastle (#30) and University of the Sunshine Coast (#31) over the past few years.

The list of Australian institutions in the top 100 global universities for their THE Impact Ranking for 2022 is shown below.


1NSWWestern Sydney University99.1
15NSWUniversity of Technology Sydney95.6
19VICLa Trobe University94.9
22VICRMIT University94.7
25TASUniversity of Tasmania94.3
30NSWUniversity of Newcastle93.8
31QLDUniversity of Sunshine Coast93.6
42VICMonash University92.9
52NSWUniversity of Sydney92.2
55NSWUniversity of New South Wales91.9
57ACTUniversity of Canberra91.7
67NSWCharles Sturt University90.7
70NSWUniversity of Wollongong90.4
79NSWMacquarie University89.7
79VICVictoria University89.7
83QLDCentral Queensland University89.4
92QLDGriffith University88.9


As well as the overall ranking across all Sustainable Development Goals, we have looked at the top-100 rankings of Australian universities across SDGs that are particularly relevant in terms of their response to climate change. Of particular note here is the #1 ranking for University of Tasmania for climate action globally, with University of Newcastle, University of the Sunshine Coast, Western Sydney University and Monash University all ranking in the top 25 globally.


UniversityOverall Impact rankingAffordable and Clean EnergySustainable Cities and CommunitiesClimate Action
Western Sydney University1231523
University of Technology Sydney1514
La Trobe University197477
RMIT University22374274
University of Tasmania2598601
University of Newcastle30162416
University of the Sunshine Coast3122
Monash University42281525
University of Sydney5213
UNSW Sydney55174239
University of Canberra57
Charles Sturt University67984614
University of Wollongong707167
Macquarie University799370
Victoria University79
Central Queensland University83
Griffith University9254
The University of Queensland8476
Queensland University of Technology70
James Cook University73
Federation University Australia87
Australian National University70
The University of Western Australia59


100% Renewables are experts in helping universities with their climate action and net zero strategies. Please download our university capability statement if you’d like to find out more about how we can help you.

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