The top 23 Australian universities for climate action commitments in 2021

In addition to tracking ambitious commitments of local governments and communities, 100% Renewables has been tracking carbon and renewable energy commitments made by Australia’s public tertiary education sector since 2017.

Our first University-related blog post published actions and commitments of several universities that demonstrated sustainable energy leadership. We highlighted examples of leading clean energy and low carbon research, divestments from fossil fuels, and examples of universities’ targets and actions to reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2020, we published a blog post series on a number of sustainability leadership topics that are relevant to the tertiary education sector:

  1. Commitments, actions and achievements of 14 leading universities across Australia
  2. Universities with Green Star certified buildings
  3. Universities that are signatories to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  4. Universities with fossil fuel divestment commitments

This blog post revisits ambitious climate action commitments made by universities and provides an updated list. Since our 2020 blog post series, nine more universities have committed to ambitious goals, and several others have increased their climate ambition. A total of 23 out of 40 universities have now committed to ambitious climate action targets.

Below are some examples:

Out of the 23 universities in the ambitious commitments list, 11 have committed to 100% renewable energy on or before 2030, 11 have committed to carbon neutrality on or before 2030, and 7 have committed to net-zero GHG emissions targets on or before 2050.

Top 23 universities’ 100% renewable energy and carbon neutrality/net-zero commitments

Carbon neutral, net zero and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities as at Feb 2021 (map)
Figure 1: Carbon neutral, net zero and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities as at Feb 2021

Below is a list of 23 leading universities in Australia that have demonstrated sustainable energy leadership with their ambitious commitments to 100% renewable energy or carbon neutrality/net-zero emissions.

NoStateUniversityRenewable energy CommitmentCarbon neutrality commitment
1ACTAustralian National UniversityIncrease renewable energy generation by 50 percent by 2021Decrease total carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2021
Minimising the University's greenhouse gas emissions footprint through its own operations, in line with commitments to be greenhouse gas negative as soon as possible
2NSWAustralian Catholic University100% renewable electricity by July 2021Net zero emissions by 2030
3NSWCharles Sturt University100% clean energy by 2030First 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 NewcastleDeliver 100% renewable electricity across our Newcastle and Central Coast campuses from 1 January 2020Achieve carbon neutrality by 2025
6NSWUniversity of New South Wales100% renewable electricity by 2020Carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020
7NSWUniversity of Sydney100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025Net zero emissions by 2030
8NSWWestern Sydney University100% renewable energy by 2025Net-zero GHG emissions target by 2030
9QLDCQ University50 percent of its energy for its Queensland campuses sourced from renewable solar from 2021Aim at reducing carbon emissions
10QLDGriffith University45-50% emissions reduction against a 2010 baseline by 2030
Net zero emissions by 2050
11QLDUniversity of Queensland100% renewable energy by 2020Reduction in the university’s carbon footprint
12QLDUniversity of the Sunshine CoastLarge-scale solar PV and thermal storage at Sippy Downs campusCarbon neutral by 2025
13QLDUniversity of Southern QueenslandCommitted to achieve 100% renewable energy by installing a Sustainable Energy SolutionCarbon neutral by 2020
14SAFlinders UniversityGenerate 30% of our energy needs from renewable sourcesAchieve zero net emissions
from electricity by 2021
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
17VICDeakin UniversitySustainable microgrid systems in the community and their effective integration with existing energy networksCarbon neutral by 2030
18VICLa Trobe UniversityRenewable energy project will increase our solar generation by 200%Carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022.
19VICRMIT University100% renewable energy from 2019Carbon neutral by 2030
20VICMonash University100% renewable energy by 2030Net zero carbon emissions from Australian campuses by 2030
21VICSwinburne University of TechnologyCommit to 100 per cent renewable energy procurement by 31 July 2020Carbon neutral by 2025
22VICUniversity of MelbourneAchieve zero net emissions
from electricity by 2021
Achieve carbon neutrality
before 2030
Reduce emissions by 20,000 tonnes of carbon per year by 2020 through on-campus energy projects
23WAUniversity of Western Australia100% renewable energy by 2025Energy carbon neutral by 2025

100% Renewables has been pleased to support a number of these institutions with the development and delivery of their renewable energy and carbon abatement programs.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies and action plans. If you need help with developing your climate action strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

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