Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Net Carbon Zero programme

University of Otago has committed to reaching Net Carbon Zero by 2030 by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by more than half and then offsetting the emissions that we have not been able to eliminate.

This is an ambitious goal that will not be achieved easily. So, we have established a Net Carbon Zero Programme that will allow us to meet our targets in a way that befits a research-led university with an international reputation for excellence, and ensures we can maintain and improve upon this level of emissions beyond 2030.

You can read about where we've come from, where we are and where we need to go:

Net Carbon Zero: Journey to 2030

Our work towards Net Carbon Zero 2030 has been recognised at the Australasian Green Gown awards as a finalist in the Climate Action category in 2023, through the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact rankings.

2023 Green Gown awards

Some of our key actions to achieve our targets and tackle climate change are summarised below.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions reporting

Our climate action starts with measuring our greenhouse gas emissions. You can read our reports for recent years below:


The Property Services' Energy Management team has been successful in removing coal from the main heating system for the Dunedin campus and all other boilers on our campuses and colleges.  This video from 2018 gives a good overview of the journey we have been on.

The focus is now on reducing our reliance on natural gas and LPG, and using energy analytics to drive greater efficiency across the largest energy users in our estate.


Residential colleges adopted Mindful Monday (plant-based meals one day per week), which we estimate reduces emissions due to food purchase by 11%. This project was short-listed in the Climate Action category of the 2021 Green Gown Awards.

2021 Green Gown awards

We're working on connecting better data about our food purchases and  emissions, and the best way to share this with kitchen staff and diners to further reduce emissions.


In 2019, the University kicked off a project that aimed to halve emissions from University-funded air travel and provide a mechanism to offset remaining emissions. The COVID–19 pandemic saw emissions reduce by more than 80 per cent, and the focus in now on supporting staff to continue to deliver high quality outcomes while keeping air travel emissions below half of pre-pandemic levels.

For more information about how and why to keep air travel emissions low:

Visit Business air travel and greenhouse gas emissions

We also account for air travel by students to get to their campus of study and home again at the end of the year. We will investigate ways to support students to minimise these emissions and look at offsetting options.

The University, Dunedin City Council, Otago Regional Council and Te Whatu Ora Southern jointly employ a Workplace Travel Plan Coordinator to help promote sustainable and healthy commuting. Previous initiatives include the e-bike discount scheme and e-bike hub, and promoting the bee card bus pass to staff and students.

We are also working to decarbonise the University's vehicle fleet.

Learn more about the E-bike discount scheme


We are working closely in partnership with Waste Management New Zealand to reduce the total waste to land fill (and reduce landfill emissions) as well as specifically focussing on reducing food waste in the residential colleges. Our waste reduction efforts to date were short-listed in the Leading the Circular Economy category of the 2021 Green Gown awards.

2021 Green Gown awards

Our targets are to reduce total waste created by 6% per year, and increase the amount of that amount diverted to landfill to 50%.

Getting involved

Got an opportunity to reduce emissions in your area? Want to integrate emissions data or our climate action into a course or piece of research? Whether you're a student, member of staff, a supplier or part of the wider community, we'd love to hear from you.


Back to top