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Update 2: University of Adelaide and a net zero emissions target

The Hon Catherine Branson AC QC
Chancellor
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005

Dear Chancellor,

RE: The University of Adelaide and a net-zero emissions target

I write to you to follow-up on my correspondence of 25 June 2021, and the response provided by Acting COO, Ms Virginia Deegan, on your behalf.

The key message in my initial correspondence was that the University of Adelaide has an opportunity to position itself on climate change as ‘running with its peers’. In that correspondence, I asked whether the University Council or university administration was actively considering a net zero emission target, and the likely timeline on such a decision. Please find a copy of my original correspondence and your university’s response enclosed.

In that response, I was informed that the University was developing of an ambitious emissions reduction strategy, and that:

The strategy development will include consultation with staff, students, alumni and industry experts in the coming months, with a final document to be presented to the University Council in early 2022.

May I please seek an update on the development of that strategy, including:

  • How, as an alumni and formal staff member I can contribute to the consultation?
  • The current estimated timeline on the launch of that strategy?
  • Whether the strategy will include a net zero CO2-equivalent emissions commitment, and if so, by what date?

Thank you again for your time and consideration of my correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Cornish

1 / 3 / 2022

University of Adelaide and a net zero emissions target

The Hon Catherine Branson AC QC
Chancellor
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005

Dear Chancellor,

RE: The University of Adelaide and a net-zero emissions target

I hope this correspondence finds you well; thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I am writing to you in your capacity as Chair of the University of Adelaide Council and would be appreciative if you were able to bring my correspondence to the attention of the Council.

I am writing in my personal capacity as an alumni and former staff member of The University of Adelaide. To avoid all doubt, I am not writing in any way in my capacity as a current employee within the Group of Eight directorate.

During my time as former Senior Adviser to Ms Rebekha Sharkie MP, an intellectual interest in climate change and environmental conservation has developed through greater understanding into an active and keen interest. It is through this lens that I seek to encourage the university to publicly adopt a clear emissions target – ideally, a minimum target of net zero (CO2 equivalent) emissions by 2030. I have searched unsuccessfully for any such commitment that the University may have made.

None of this is to detract from the very good work that The University of Adelaide has already undertaken to reduce its environmental footprint, such as its commitment as a Carbon Neutral Adelaide Partner, and work done under its sustainability engagement program, Ecoversity. These initiatives should rightfully be recognised as excellent steps in the right direction to ensure the university is doing its part in safeguarding Australian and global livelihoods and our shared environment.

However, other leading Australian peer universities have already made public announcements to net zero emissions targets, including the Australian National University (“below zero by 2030[1]), The University of Sydney (“Net zero emissions by 2030[2]), The University of Melbourne (“carbon neutral before 2030[3]), and Monash University (“Net Zero emissions by 2030[4]), to name but a few.

The University of Adelaide has an opportunity to position itself on climate change as ‘running with its peers’, although that opportunity may soon pass.

May I kindly request, is the University Council (or university administration) actively considering a net zero emission target?

If so, what is the likely timeline on a decision on that target?

If not, I kindly and strongly encourage the Council to actively deliberate on setting a net zero emissions target and set a deadline for that decision.

Thank you again for your time and consideration of my correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Cornish

25 / 6 / 2021

Cc Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Høj AC

[1] See: https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/anu-zeroes-in-on-negative-carbon-emissions-by-2030

[2] See: https://www.sydney.edu.au/about-us/vision-and-values/sustainability.html#climatechange

[3] See: https://www.unimelb.edu.au/alumni/news/universitys-sustainability-plan-published

[4] See: https://www.monash.edu/net-zero-initiative