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Melbourne University launches Sustainability Plan

The University of Melbourne has announced an ambitious four-year strategy committing itself to take action on climate change and its impacts, and play a sector leadership role in sustainability.

The Sustainability Plan 2017-2020 will see the University of Melbourne become carbon neutral before 2030, achieve zero net emissions from electricity by 2021, and report annually on its sustainability impact and performance.

The Plan also positions sustainability more prominently as part of the undergraduate curriculum, and outlines the University’s response to calls to divest from fossil fuel-intensive companies.

Vice-Principal Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Allan Tait said the University had a responsibility to lead strongly and act decisively in addressing global societal challenges, such as building a more sustainable world.

“The Sustainability Plan clearly outlines the University’s commitment to this important task. It highlights how Melbourne is acting on this front across all areas of the institution, with holistic actions and targets that will assist in tackling the impacts of climate change,” he said.

The Plan is the result of more than 12 months of public consultation that commenced in late 2015 with the development of the University’s Sustainability Charter. This process saw nearly 500 attendees across two events as well as hundreds of email submissions into the development of both the Plan and the Charter. 

While the Charter established the high-level principles and values that would guide the University’s sustainability activities, the Plan sets out a range of clear and measurable priority actions and targets.

Key actions articulated in the Plan include:

  • Reduce emissions by 20,000 tonnes of carbon per year by 2020 through on-campus renewable energy projects
  • Increase the number of University of Melbourne graduates who can demonstrate a specialisation in environment and sustainability
  • Replace 10 per cent of University car parking spaces with bicycle parking by 2018
  • Publish a University-wide Biodiversity Management Plan
  • Develop industry partnerships that emphasise our resources for sustainability research.