Net Zero Week 2023


Net Zero Week is running from the 1st -7th July. To celebrate, we are highlighting a campaign each day that is working to reduce the University's or Guild's impact on the environment. 

So what is Net Zero? 

Net Zero sets the ambition of negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing them from the atmosphere. It is a target often set by companies and institutions that means the emissions they emit are balanced with the amount that are removed, meaning there are no additional emissions released into the atmosphere. 

What's the University doing? 

The University published their Climate Plan in November 2022, which sets out a timeline for achieving Net Zero by 2035.

What's missing: 

The plan is missing key elements of Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, such as home working, student start and end-of-term travel, and the investment portfolio. Furthermore, the University must use a carbon budget approach that is consistent with the UN agreement to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 °C and strive for 1 °C of warming. The University haven't yet made a commitment on the type or amount of offsetting they will do. A SBTi principle of maximum abatement should be set and insetting should be pursued over offsetting.

What have the Guild been doing this year? 

 This year we have had five key focuses when it comes to sustainability at the Guild, these range from lobbying the university on their Climate Plan and Sustainability Strategy, to Guild policies, and helping students be more sustainable day to day on campus. We've launched the new Climate Action Network (CAN) to allow students to feed into and shape the work across the Guild this year, especially with the Fossil Free Careers campaign. 

  • Green New Deal Joint Trade Union claim
  • Fossil Free Careers
  • Leave Liverpool Tidy
  • Investments Update 
  • Updated Guild policies 

 Head to our social channels every day this week to find out more about each campaign and how you can get involved! 

Beyond Net Zero 

Net Zero can allow emissions to still be produced, where offsetting (a carbon offset is a reduction or removal of emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made to compensate for emissions made elsewhere) is used instead of emission reduction. Offsets can end up helping the high emitters through bypassing their obligation to fully decarbonise. For Net Zero targets to be impactful they need to be paired with science-based target initiatives. 

Offsetting can be done via land-use changes such as reforestation, through carbon capture technology, and by carbon credit initiatives which remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Offsetting may be helpful to curb the tail end of emissions, but companies and institutions should be prioritising rapid emission reductions in line with a carbon budget approach, as explained later. 

Land use changes

The most common land use change used as an offsetting method is reforestation, where trees are planted on previously unused land, usually many miles away or even in a different country to where the emissions are released.  

So, what’s the issue? A newly planted tree can take as many as 20 years to capture the amount of CO2 that a carbon-offset scheme promises. We would have to plant and protect a massive number of trees for decades to offset even a fraction of global emissions. Even then, there is always the risk that these efforts will be wiped out by droughts, wildfires, tree diseases and deforestation. 

Carbon capture technology

Carbon capture technology seeks to remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere. However, the technology currently faces issues of efficiency, safety, and cost and so should not yet be relied upon as an effective offsetting solution.  

Carbon credit initiatives

These rely on avoiding future emissions. There are carbon credit instruments where a high emitter takes credit for helping someone else avoid a future emission. They are seen to be inefficient and controversial because they allow rich corporations to bypass their obligation to lower emissions. 

Net Zero, in spirit, means reducing emissions to their lowest amount through energy efficiency measures and then using offsetting as a last resort to balance remaining hard to remove emissions.  However, if we want to tackle the climate emergency, we cannot afford to rely on offsetting to reduce our emissions. This is why the Guild, alongside the Joint Trade Union Green New Deal Action Group, is calling for the University to have a maximum emissions abatement target. 

Net Zero Week Glossary

Scopes 1, 2 and 3

Scope 1: The direct emissions from the sources we control and own, such as from heating sources or vehicle emissions.  

Scope 2: The energy we purchase, such as to heat and light our buildings.  

Scope 3: The emissions associated with the wide range of activities we engage in, including staff and student commuter travel, business travel and the goods and services we procure.  


SBTi (Science based targets initiative) provides a framework of standards for emissions reductions efforts, for instance, the inclusion of scope 3 in emissions reductions targets, and the approach of maximum abatement. 

Maximum abatement means that reductions of emissions at the source are prioritised in order to minimise the use of offsets 

Carbon Budget

Carbon budgets are based on the idea that there is a strong relationship between cumulative emissions and temperatures in climate models. They work by tying the amount of future warming to a total amount of CO2 emissions.


When a carbon reduction project, verified by a carbon offset standard, which occurs within a company’s supply chain or supply chain communities.