Net zero by 2040: St Catharine’s publishes environmental sustainability strategy

Tuesday 8 February 2022


St Catharine’s has published its new environmental sustainability strategy setting out an ambition to achieve carbon-equivalent net zero status by 2040 and to deliver a detailed roadmap setting out how the College intends to achieve this goal.

The strategy offers guiding principles for all future activity by setting out what the College means by environmental sustainability, why it is important, what the St Catharine’s community intends to achieve and how these goals will be delivered. Read the strategy.

Professor Sir Mark Welland (2016), Master of St Catharine’s, commented:

“Our new environmental sustainability strategy and net zero goal are the culmination of many months of work by St Catharine’s students, staff and Fellows and represent a crucial first step towards ensuring that future generations inherit an environment that is healthier and more biodiverse. Achieving net-zero emissions depends upon our community making substantial progress each and every year between now and 2040. I have no doubt that the required changes will feel challenging, uncomfortable even, but I also have every faith that we will draw on our community spirit and pull together for the sake of our environment and future generations.”

The UK has made a legally binding commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and the University of Cambridge has committed to reducing its emissions to absolute zero by 2048.

Professor Bill Sutherland CBE (2008), Environment Fellow and Chair of the St Catharine’s Green Working Group, explained:

“By aiming for net zero emissions by 2040, we are challenging ourselves to be more ambitious than required. What’s more, as soon as a realistic pathway to absolute zero has been established, I have no doubt that the College community will welcome the opportunity to revise our current goal.

“Thank you to everyone who has contributed their time and insights to the development of the College’s new strategy on environmental sustainability. St Catharine’s is rightly proud of our track record of advancing environmental sustainability, through world-class research that advances policy and academic discourse, and community-led improvements to how the College operates. I’m delighted that we are now able to build on these recent experiences and articulate our shared ambitions for the future.”

St Catharine’s environmental sustainability strategy was recently approved by Governing Body and was developed with the support of students, staff and Fellows, including representatives on the College’s Green Working Group.

Asya Ostrovsky and Adam Durrant, second-year undergraduates and Ethical and Environmental Officers for the St Catharine’s JCR representing undergraduate students, said:

“We are delighted to see a commitment to net zero by 2040, although we are sure that St Catharine's will out-perform this target. The acknowledgement of the need for social sustainability, equality and the welfare of non-human organisms as part of the strategy is also great to see, especially with regards to biodiversity and the health of the planet. We feel that such a commitment reflects a much-needed ethical concern in net zero strategies. This strategy places St Catharine’s as a part of a community, both local and planet-wide, and we look forward to seeing the roadmap develop and take shape as the next step towards some truly impactful changes that will benefit both the College and wider society.”

The Green Working Group is in the process of developing an accompanying roadmap for achieving net zero emissions. The roadmap will enable St Catharine’s to define and quantify current emissions in the context of monitoring reduction, and will provide a range of action plans that set out the direction of travel across different areas of College life.

Helen Hayward (2018), Fellow and Operations Director, commented:

“I and other members of the Green Working Group relish the challenge of planning how St Catharine’s is going to deliver on this new goal of net zero emissions by 2040. An actionable roadmap will be essential if we are to make steady progress across successive generations of students, staff and Fellows. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to draw upon the expertise of our Fellowship, who I hope will scrutinise our plans and encourage us to accelerate activity where we can.”

Sam Stephenson, an Engineering PhD student and Green Officer for the St Catharine’s MCR representing the postgraduate community, added:

“The College has set an ambitious task to decarbonise in the next 18 years and the postgraduate community is united behind this. This challenge is going to require input and actions from everybody within the St Catharine’s community and I’m pleased to see the strategy place engagement as one of the guiding principles. The student body is incredibly passionate about ensuring the College reaches zero emissions and also has a huge amount of expertise to provide. We look forward to continuing our work with the Green Working Group to achieve net zero.”

Read about the College community had been nurturing sustainable practices before 2022.