Roadmap to net zero published

Thursday 21 September 2023


St Catharine’s is delighted to publish its first ever roadmap explaining how the College intends to achieve carbon-equivalent net zero status by 2040, an ambition that it originally set out in last year’s environmental strategy.

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

“In 2020, St Catharine’s formally acknowledged that climate change is one of the biggest challenges that humanity has ever faced. I would like to thank all the students, staff and Fellows who have worked over the last 18 months to identify how the College will need to adapt to ensure we can achieve net zero status before 2040. I applaud them for this crucial work, and for the tenacity and focus that it has taken to produce this roadmap and accompanying action plans.”

The new roadmap was generated by the College’s Green Working Group, a group consisting of representatives from our students, staff and Fellows who kindly reviewed and provided helpful comments on each component action plan and drafts of the overall roadmap before it was presented to General Estates Committee and approved by Governing Body (the College’s Trustees) at its last meeting.

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

“The areas that the Green Working Group have chosen to focus on and the goals we have ourselves are specific to the St Catharine’s community and the context we find ourselves in 2023. We fully expect our roadmap will need to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis between now and 2040 if we are to realise our ambition of net zero emissions. Ahead of my retirement as Environment Fellow later this summer, I wanted to commend the Group for their commitment and offer my ongoing advice and support as implementation gets underway.”

The roadmap identifies a number of areas where the College community needs to take steps to reduce emissions. These areas are summarised below and are supported by detailed action plans within the roadmap document.

Roadmap priorities

Purchased electricity (includes reduced consumption)

  • Purchased electricity to be generated from non-emitting energy sources from 2021

Energy usage (includes reduced consumption and technology)

  • No like for like boiler replacements from 2021
  • All projects to include future proofing to support move to new technologies from 2022
  • Energy usage to be reported annually, enabling tracking of reductions in usage

Purchased goods and services

  • Removal of ruminant meat from menus by 2027
  • Increase in provision of plant-based food options by 2027
  • Ensure fish is procured from sustainable sources from 2023
  • Reduce food waste by 50% year on year from definition of baseline in September 2024

Construction activities

  • All projects to embrace the principle of embodied carbon reduction potential

College travel

  • All College vehicles to be electric by 2023
  • Sustainable travel policy to be developed for all College-funded travel by 2024
  • Plan to be developed to enable and incentivise more sustainable commuting by 2024
  • Plan to be developed to enable and incentivise reduced emissions associated with student commuting by 2025

Waste reduction

  • Understand our waste streams and have a plan for reducing them by December 2024
  • Reduce food waste by 50% year on year until it is a maximum of 10%
  • Stop using single use plastics (as required by law) by October 2023 and introduce charge for other single use containers in order to reduce use


  • Achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from St Catharine’s investments by 2040
  • Incorporate our net zero ambitions at lease renewal and for any new property leases
  • Banking providers and products to align with St Catharine’s social and environmental policies by 2024

Community engagement and communications

  • Demonstrate that on average 85% of respondents can recall our net zero target in our annual survey of students, staff and Fellows in 2025
  • Demonstrate that on average 95% of respondents can recall our net zero target and 85% can recall at least two other supporting targets from this roadmap in our annual survey of students, staff and Fellows in 2030
  • Track participation and group identification/status against the three groups described in the action plan through an opinion survey of the College community

Alice Clarke, a second-year Geography undergraduate, and Ellie Robinson, a second-year HSPS undergraduate, said:

“As the Ethical and Environmental Officers on the Junior Combination Room (JCR) Committee, we are particularly proud of the steps outlined with regard to reducing emissions from travel as well as improving the sustainability of food as these goals most directly affect the undergraduates who we represent. The ethics and sustainability of food at Catz is one of the most common concerns we hear, and this roadmap shows that key steps are being taken to improve the sustainability of the food here within a meaningful timeframe."

Affan Iqbal, a PhD student based at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, commented:

“Catz has made impressive commitments in its roadmap, which are particularly exciting for next-generation energy technology researchers like myself. One standout commitment is the college's dedication to future-proof all new energy projects undertaken. This proactive approach puts the college at the forefront of the sustainable energy transition, and serves as a role model to other educational institutions.

“Catz’s bold commitments in its roadmap reflect a commendable dedication to environmental sustainability, health and social responsibility. By embracing innovative energy solutions and by promoting sustainable dietary choices, the College sets a positive example for other institutions and contributes to a healthier, more sustainable future for all.”

Helen Hayward (2018), Fellow and Operations Director at St Catharine’s, added:

“Our roadmap intentionally prioritises community engagement and I hope all parts of the St Catharine’s community will take every opportunity to support our activities. The Green Working Group has worked well so far to bring together different experiences, skills and expertise in a supportive and less formal environment, and next term’s meetings will continue to be open to all students, staff and Fellows who want to help.”

Read the roadmap in full.