Join the Race to Zero before 11th November 2024

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Western Sydney University - Australia

What is the name of your institution?

Western Sydney University (Western)

Why did you sign up to the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges?

Western’s strategic plan “Sustaining Success 2021-2026” upholds Sustainability as one of our core principles. Our participation in ‘Race to Zero’ reflects the University’s commitment to climate action for the communities of Western Sydney. “Western Sydney University’s commitment to this pledge and fast tracking of carbon neutrality targets reiterates our dedication to addressing climate change and a future that is not only habitable, but also inclusive and equitable.” – Professor Barney Glover AO, Vice-Chancellor and President.

What have you achieved since you have joined the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges? 

Following the University’s commitment to the UN led ‘Race to Zero’ for Universities and Colleges of Carbon Neutral by 2023 and Climate Positive by 2029, steps were taken to begin the progress towards Climate Active accreditation with the assistance of the NSW Government’s Sustainable Advantage Program. Organisational boundaries and Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions of our organisational Carbon Footprint have been estimated with the assistance of our consultant, 100% Renewables. The estimate is currently undergoing third party verification. Procurement processes to purchase voluntary carbon offsets has begun, and once this is completed all requirements will be submitted to Climate Active for certification.

During 2021, Western’s electricity supply contract was updated to reflect 100% accredited GreenPower sourced from renewable sources, estimated at 39% of Western’s carbon footprint in our 2021 Carbon Neutrality Implementation Plan.
Other supporting initiatives have included further expansion of rooftop solar energy generation, planning towards roll-out of solar carparks, and installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on most of our campuses. Steps towards our commitment to Climate Positive are underway, through investment in transitional carbon offsets from revenue derived from biodiversity stewardship, development of the Hawkesbury Circular Economy Hub with Sydney Water

Corporation and Hawkesbury City Council, and investigations continuing into opportunities to directly generate accredited carbon credits.

How are you leading the transition to net-zero? Consider the Leadership Practices and how you are engaging others to join the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges or other Race to Zero campaigns.

Western’s leadership in the transition to net-zero is reflected in our recent achievement of 1st Worldwide in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. This also highlighted our significant achievement of 1st Worldwide for SDG 6 ‘ Clean Water and Sanitation’, 2nd worldwide for SDG 12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ and 5th worldwide for SDG 17 ‘Partnerships for the Goals’. Sustainability is embedded across the functional domains of Curriculum, Operations, Research and Engagement as per the CORE model of a Sustainable University and our deep commitment expressed in our decadal strategy Sustainability and Resilience 2030 and our nine interconnected priority statements which includes dedicated climate action: Step up efforts to support climate action in our region.

What challenges have you had?

Western is continuing to learn and understand more about the changes required as an organisation as part of the ‘Race to Zero’ pledge. One of the key challenges is the steep learning curve along with understanding and implementing the changes that are necessary to progress from Carbon Neutral to our future state of a low carbon Climate Positive organisation.

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