University of Melbourne joins Race to Zero

University of Melbourne campus.
The University has committed to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Image: Joe Vittorio

The University of Melbourne has signed on to participate in the global Race to Zero campaign for Universities and Colleges as a means of reinforcing its commitment to climate action.

The Race to Zero campaign is an official partner of the UNFCCC Race to Zero campaign.

It commits the University of Melbourne at a head-of-organisation level to:

  • Reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and by mid-century at the latest
  • Set an interim target to achieve by 2030, which reflects its maximum effort towards or beyond a fair share of the 50 per cent global reduction in CO2 identified in the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C as necessary to prevent major global repercussions.

“Signing on to the Race to Zero campaign emphasises the University’s commitment to action and its willingness to collaborate in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said.

“The University of Melbourne will stand behind our researchers and students, work with our colleagues across the higher education sector, and act now to do our part to reduce the impacts of climate change.”

Last month the University announced it commitment to new, more ambitious climate targets that will see it achieve certified net-zero emissions by 2025 and become climate positive by 2030, bringing the Race to Zero targets well within reach.

Those targets are significantly bolder than those previously set (to achieve carbon neutrality before 2030) and position the University of Melbourne as leader within the Australia higher education sector that “walks the talk” on climate action.

Melbourne Climate Futures Director Professor Jackie Peel said: “The University of Melbourne is already on track to meet and exceed the Race to Zero commitments, but this signature also shows our community and our policy-makers the seriousness of our commitment.”

The Race to Zero pledge requires the University to formulate and implement an action plan within 12 months of signing. This action plan will be laid out in the updated Sustainability Plan, due for release in Quarter 2, 2022.

The pledge also commits the University to annual public reporting, which can be found in its annual reports.

“Transparency and accountability are fundamental to making a real difference in the climate crisis,” Professor Peel said, “and signing this pledge holds the University to account and shows that we will walk to the talk on climate action.”

Additional information will be available when the University’s updated Sustainability Plan is published next year. For more on what the University is doing to combat climate change, please visit the Melbourne Climate Futures website.