Read the full Environmental Sustainability Strategy (PDF, 4.7MB). 

Download here

Our sustainability strategy

Our Sustainable Future, the University's Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2023-28, outlines how we will reduce our carbon footprint, promote sustainability in our teaching and learning, research and innovation, and reduce our negative environmental operational impact. 

We have illustrated practical steps we will take to protect and enhance our environment. We will report on every stage of the process and remain transparent.

Strategy highlights

Our Sustainable Future is organised around the University's three core goals.


Social responsibility  

As the first University to set social responsibility as one of its core goals, Manchester is unique in its commitment to making a difference to the social and economic wellbeing of our communities.  

Download the full Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement plan (PDF, 4.38MB).  

Teaching and learning 

We ensure that through interdisciplinary and research-led teaching, our students are invited to learn about the UN’s Sustainable Developments Goals with their programmes of study so they can better understand the challenges our world is facing and how they can help.  

Read more about our teaching and learning goals. 

Research and discovery 

Guided by our Sustainable Futures platform, our research aims to address the major environmental challenges we face in the 21st century and beyond. We prioritise research that has a positive impact on society. 

Read more about our research and discovery

Find out more about the Sustainable Futures platform.  

Zero carbon ambition   

Climate change is the great threat facing humanity. The 2015 Paris Agreement outlined the need for urgent reductions to global carbon emissions to keep the average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or lower.  

Our University aims to achieve zero direct carbon emissions by 2038.

Read the full Carbon Action plan (Word Doc, 227KB). 

Read the Race to Zero report (Word Doc, 424KB). 

Our carbon budget* was set by climate scientists at the University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.  

*A 'carbon budget’ refers to the emissions an individual or organisation can emit into the atmosphere before contributing more than their ‘fair share’ of the total we can emit globally if we are to stay within 1.5 degrees.

Key commitments

  • Providing staff with training to educate on causes and impact of climate change and how they can mitigate against it. 
  • Entering into Power Purchase Agreements to generate additional zero carbon electricity to match our own consumption.  

Further commitments can be found in the full strategy.    

Scope 3 emissions  

The 2038 target and carbon budget relates to our “Scope 1” and “Scope 2” emissions (primarily the use of gas and electricity), as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. We, however, recognise the importance of acting on our indirect Scope 3 emissions (carbon associated with our value chain) as they are considerably larger than our direct footprint.  

In July 2023, we set a Scope 3 emissions target of net zero by 2050. Details of this plan can be found in our Scope 3 report (PDF, 1.47MB).  


We undertake regular environmental audits of our operations and processes.  


Supplementary studies and performance reviews

Sustainable Development Goals

As one of the world’s leading research institutions and the UK’s only university to have social responsibility as a core goal, Manchester is playing a leading role in tackling the Sustainable Development Goals in four ways – through our research, learning and students, public engagement activities and responsible campus operations.

Find out how we contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals