School and Division Climate Action Plans

Why are we asking departments to create a Climate Action Plan?

We are facing a global climate and biodiversity emergency. The natural ecosystems we depend upon are under significant and substantial threat and we are already witnessing the consequences of climate change. Urgent action is required.

In April 2019, the University of Bristol became the first UK University to make a public climate emergency declaration.

The University has a target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and agree a timescale to do the same for Scope 3 emissions.

Setting a target is only a step in the right direction, translating this into actions that penetrate all levels of policy, process and practice across our organisation is more challenging. 

The Sustainability Council support the view that climate considerations should be part of the university planning processes and are encouraging departments to develop Climate Action Plans.

"Schools and Divisions are essential partners in the implementation of the University’s sustainability strategy. The teaching that we deliver, the research that we undertake and the way in which we manage our organisation fundamentally helps us to address the challenges of climate change. The new Climate Action Plans are at the heart of this effort, allowing for the generation of new ideas, the identification of shared challenges and opportunities, and the bringing together of students and staff in a common endeavour. Thank you for your continued support with this process." 

Erik Lithander, PVC for Global Engagement and Chair of the Sustainability Council

What exactly is a Climate Action Plan (CAP)?

The Sustainability Team have developed a Climate Action Planning tool and are rolling out a programme of support for departments to create a Climate Action Plans.

Departments are asked to provide the Sustainability Team with a CAP Co-ordinator and to ensure the Heads of Schools or Department support and sign-off their plan.

The aim is to make Climate Action Planning as easy as possible and to coordinate activity efficiently.

The CAP coordinators are trained to use the software and supported to develop plans and gather evidence of action. They are not responsible for delivery; they simply coordinate the departmental response.

A webinar series, guidance and resources as well as support from members of the Sustainability Team and will be provided to all CAP coordinators. The tool itself also includes resources and signposting to support and programmes delivered by the Sustainability Team and other key operational areas (procurement, catering, IT etc).

How will it help?

  • The approach provides a consistent approach to taking climate action.
  • Schools and departments benefit from a simple but effective gap analysis in addition to practical steps enabling them to take climate action in their own context.
  • Departments can use their action plan to communicate with their stakeholders how they are taking climate action, students are likely to be particularly keen to see action being taken.
  • The Sustainability Council will be able to better scrutinise School and Department level action by gathering evidence of activity and progress.
  • Identifying and celebrating best practice are made easy through the tool. 
  • The tool signposts to resources and programmes the organisation invests in to increase awareness and uptake of these activities meaning they provide better value  for money.
  • Organisations will be able to plan engagement and training requirements and manage their resources more effectively by better targeting of resources.
  • Engagement at School and Department level will identify challenge and opportunity effectively and enable co-ordinated responses as well as prioritising targeted activities.
  • CAPs will be integrated into the IPP process so recording activity within the tool acts as a way of reporting avoiding additional reporting.

Who should get involved?

Schools and Divisions should develop their CAP with the involvement of staff and students within their area.

The CAP Coordinator is a key role. This individual will act as a point of contact for the Sustainability Team, providing a conduit for information, attending training and completing the online toolkit.

School Heads and Divisional Directors will ensure the development of a CAP is undertaken and facilitate implementation of actions arising from the plan.

A CAP coordinating group which should include academic and professional services staff as well as students is likely to be needed to help complete the CAP and delivery of the actions. This group will include the CAP coordinator.

The School or Division can choose to deliver the CAPs in a different way using existing structures, like team meetings or other groups, but a single point of contact with the sustainability team will still be required (the CAP coordinator). 

The current list of CAP Coordinators can be found here:

CAP Coordinators January 2020

  • Education - Prof Alf Coles
  • Accounting and Finance - Prof Stuart Cooper, Lizzie Carrington
  • Management - Don Rintoul, Prof Palie Smart (HOS)
  • Sociology, Politics and International Studies - Prof Eric Herring, Prof Michelle Cini (HOS)
  • Population Health, Transitional Health (two schools jointly called Bristol Medical School) - Paul Savage, Helen Curtis
  • Centre for Applied Anatomy - Dr Sarah Allsop
  • Arts - Jill Walsh
  • Modern languages - Vacant
  • Centre for academic language and Development - Stuart Marshall, Robin Warr
  • Chemistry - Dr Ian Bull
  • Earth Sciences and Geographical Sciences - Dr Stuart Bellamy, Saranna Chipper-Keating
  • Physics - Josie Maskell
  • Biological Sciences - Jessica Camps
  • Psychological Science - Prof Colin Davis
  • Information Services - Pete Walker
  • Finance - Rob Logan, Aimee Gallagher
  • DARO - Joe Crofton
  • Planning - Matt Shute
  • Sport and Exercise - Pete Hudson
  • RED - Vacant
  • Library Services - Lin Amber
  • Bristol Vet School - Stuart Pope

No CAP Coordinator?

Not all Schools and Divisions are yet to appoint a CAP coordinator and write a plan. If you are interested in getting involved for your department, please contact Martin Wiles ( for advice on what needs to happen to be involved.

Student Involvement

Students are a key part of the writing and delivery of CAPs. If as a school or division you would like student input and need help to do this, please contact Martin Wiles ( Likewise, any students who would like to be involved please contact your CAP Coordinator or Martin Wiles.

What are the time scales?

Easter 2021 is the current suggested date for completing the writing of a plan.

Noting some actions will take a while to deliver, implementation is set to cover about 3 years, to 2024.

Early action will help us to avoid more dramatic action in the future. It is also worth noting that the University target for net zero carbon emissions is 2030, so time is pressing.


Building user guide (PDF, 158kB)

Quick guide - policy review (PDF, 125kB)

Terms of reference (PDF, 117kB)

Carbon Offsetting - University of Bristol position (PDF, 227kB)

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