People & Planet University League 2022/23

The People & Planet League is an annual ranking of UK Universities based on environmental and ethical performance. In 2022/23 The University of Exeter went through an assessment which saw it rise 10 places from 16th to 6th in the People and Planet League Table which means it retains its 1st Class status. This is a massive improvement and congratulations to all involved.

This page has been developed to improve the ease of access to information relating to the People and Planet, and for the sake of transparency with our University community and the general public.

You can view the full scoring methodology here.



Institutional sustainability policy

At the University of Exeter we have a bespoke Environment and Climate Emergency Policy, which was signed-off by our Vice-Chancellor in March 2022. The policy includes our 4 core climate emergency goals, accompanied by Senior Leadership commitments to achieve by 2025.


The E&CE Policy looks to mobilise the delivery of a first phase of the 288 recommendations contained within the Environment and Climate Emergency Working Group Report (2019). The policy is reviewed annually by the Environment & Climate Emergency (E&CE) board, which is chaired by the University’s Provost and Registrar. Policy progress is reported on annually via the publication of our Environment and Climate Emergency Year End Report, an archive of which is housed on the website here.

SMART Targets for reducing environmental impact

The E&CE Policy has set SMART targets across the following areas to achieve by 2025 which are reported on annually;

  • Construction & Refurbishment
  • Emissions & Discharges
  • Community Involvement
  • Waste Management
  • Biodiversity
  • Travel & Transport
  • Sustainable Procurement
  • Water

Note baseline carbon emissions for each area can be found in the latest Environment and Climate Emergency Year End Report. The E&CE team are currently in the process of developing bespoke strategies including Environmental Net Gain, Travel & Transport, and have introduced a Sustainability Design Guide (which sets out how we will achieve zero-carbon targets through adoption of whole life carbon assessment for all building projects) and Decarbonisation Masterplan. The University of Exeter Sustainable Bought Goods and Services Policy is also available online here.

Carbon Scorecards are used internally across the University to measure and track progress and drive continual improvement. KPI Dashboard reporting to the E&CE Board was introduced in 2020/21 to further improve progress tracking of key actions. An example is available here:

Carbon Net Zero Dashboard 2020-2021



Senior Responsibility

The Environment & Climate Emergency Board is chaired by the Registrar and Provost and has a committee of key academic and professional service staff and students, and recognises the leadership required at all levels across the University to mobilise and embed the E&CE Agenda. Additionally, Glenn Woodcock is the Council Lead for Environmental Sustainability and Independent Lead for Environment and Climate Emergency Dual Assurance. The E&CE Policy includes members of the University Executive Board and Senior Leadership Group who are also accountable for the achievement of specific E&CE Targets by 2025.

Dedicated Sustainability Staff

The University of Exeter has a dedicated Environment & Climate Emergency Team. The team consists of 14 staff, with job descriptors and contact details featured in the key contacts section of the website. The university is currently in the process of recruiting a Director of Sustainability and the Environment (details of this person/role will be added to the key contacts section following appointment).


The Advocate Climate Taskforce (ACT) is now in place. Advocates represent their College/Campus or a particular theme, mobilise their Climate Environment Action Plans and attend regular ACT meetings, led by the Provost and Senior Academics to progress challenging and transformational change agenda items for the university.


In addition, academics and members of the professional service teams lead on Thematic Forums and Climate Action Plans across all parts of the university as a community of champions to embed the E&CE Agenda.

Budget for Sustainability

The university has invested in a fully-funded Environment and Climate Emergency Team of 14 staff, headed up by a Director of Sustainability and the Environment (currently under recruitment) with an operational budget for 2022/23 of £1.4 million. (£1 million in 2021/22)


Resourcing of E&CE related projects to achieve the University Carbon Net Zero Target by 2030 is approved each year by the University Strategy Investment and Planning Committee (SIPC), in line with the 5-year investment planning overseen by the University Executive Board. SIPC has provided a budget for the delivery of the Net Zero 2030 target in 2022/23 of £5.425 million. (£1 million in 2021/22)


An example of our financed Scope 1 and 2 Project Pipeline can be accessed here.

Staff Engagement Scheme

Green Rewards is our institutional engagement platform which rewards students and staff for taking actions that improve both sustainability and wellbeing. Green Rewards has so far amassed >1000 sign-ups from staff and students who have completed >42,000 positive sustainable actions, saving almost 50 tonnes of CO2 through energy saving, recycling and meat free days in the 12-month period to September 2021. The system can be accessed here, or alternatively via Android or iOS app.


All eligible laboratories at the University of Exeter have now achieved Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) accreditation as shared in this news article. LEAF empowers all lab users to get involved in ensuring their lab practices are as sustainable as possible. The Exeter Sustainable Labs site provides a platform to discuss new practices and any barriers.


Staff can also participate in progressing our Environment & Climate Emergency initiatives by joining a Thematic Forum or their College / Departmental Climate Action Group. We also welcome expressions of interest to get involved via the Climate Emergency inbox ( 


Please see the Get Involved section of our website for further information on how staff and students can get involved in making positive change for sustainability. 


Details are included on the Staff - Get Involved section of our website.



ISO14001 Our ISO14001 Environmental Management System is in place which covers 100% of the University of Exeter Estate. We were certified in October 2021 following a full site audit. All EMS documentation is housed on our SharePoint Site.



Investment Policy

Our Ethical Investment Policy was approved by Council in March 2021. It includes Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) values (3.2 & 3.3), which inform decisions for the entire portfolio of investments. It includes a commitment for;


Full Divestment – 3.5 Council have determined that it will exclude investments in entities that produce tobacco and entities that are involved in the extraction of fossil fuels. This was also publicly communicated via press release. See clause 3.6 For further details on the policy exclusions.


Responsible Investment and Engagement - 3.1-3.3 - covers the university approach to investments and specifically will only invest in entities that exhibit best class standards of behaviour and performance in a broad range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.


Student representation is present on Council (who approve the Ethical Investment Policy) via the attendance of elected Students’ Union and Students’ Guild representatives. Additionally, the policy details student representation on the Endowment and Investment Group (Clause 8.2).


Clause 8.5: The Chief Financial Officer and Executive Divisional Director of Finance, Infrastructure and Commercial Servies will have responsibility for responding to questions and queries arising from members of staff, students or alumni.


A list of endowment investments is available on pages 7-9 of the Investment Policy. Clause 8.4 of the policy states 'The Chief Financial Officer and Executive Divisional Director of Finance, Infrastructure and Commercial Services will publish this Investment Policy, along with an annually updated list of all investments held by the university's fund manager, to promote transparency. This is available via the following link on our website:

A list of university investments is published annually as part of the Financial Report.


The finance website collates all information including;
Ethical Investment Policy, Annual list of investments, and signposts to the Capital Investment Group Secretary for information regarding investment committee membership and meeting minutes.


Council will delegate to Finance Dual Assurance the oversight and monitoring of the execution of its investment policy and the performance of its appointed fund managers. 



Management Plan

The E&CE Team publish an annual Environment and Climate Emergency Year End Report, which is publicly available, and details progress towards our E&CE Policy, which is endorsed by our Vice-Chancellor. The year-end report includes the following;

  • Our institutional 2018/19 carbon emissions baseline, including scope 1, 2 and 3  (page 3).
  • Our carbon reduction targets programme to reach net zero by 2030, including all scopes (page 6).
  • Funding dedicated to progressing Low Carbon Commitment projects that address challenges identified in core policies is notes (page 8 - 3.14). Projects are focused on reducing carbon and promoting low-carbon alternatives in line with the 3-stage strategy for reaching Net Zero. Table 1 presents the key outcomes, by category, that were achieved during 2020/21 from the Low Carbon Commitment projects. This is evidence of the institutional financial investment into E&CE work, as detailed above under 'budget for sustainability'. In addition, we have published an infographic of achievements for the period May 2019 to September 2021 (available here) which demonstrates the variety of projects completed. This is evidence of the institutional investment into E&CE work.
  • 3.6 (page 7) refers to progress against the 44 policy statements within the E&CE Policy targets. Each of these targets has a senior owner/sponsor (as shown in the E&CE Policy statement) and policy progress is detailed in Appendix G (pages 22-23) of the year end report.
  • The phases of our Carbon Net Zero Programme are detailed in our Carbon and Environmental Roadmap. Step 1 is embedded, the timeline for delivery has been established, a dedicated operational carbon management team is in place and mobilisation of E&CE action is being driven by university-wide projects and a Low Carbon Commitment (LCC) fund, through Thematic Forums and Climate Action Plans engaging all Colleges and teams as well as individual action through our Green Rewards programme.  

The Year End Report is reported to the E&CE Board annually. 

Scope 1 & 2 We calculate total carbon emissions attributed to residential accommodation, including in-house and externally provided accommodation e.g. UPP, INTO buildings. See our Building by Building League Table .
Scope 3

As scope 3 is the largest section of our emissions footprint at the University of Exeter we have made the decision to include all carbon scopes in our emissions reduction plan to net zero.


Baseline emissions, and aggregated reduction targets can be viewed in our Environment and Climate Emergency Year End Report (pages 3-6), additional targets can be found in our E&CE Policy. The YE report appendices include summaries on waste (Appendix D), water (Appendix E), procurement (Appendix A), business travel and commuting (Appendix C).



Living Wage

The University has been a Living Wage Foundation Employer since 2013 – see here.

Outsourced Staff Regulations regarding agency workers (parity of pay, pensions terms and conditions) can be found here. Additional information can be found under our Fair Employment for All section of the website (tab 2).

We are a Fairtrade institution, and have a Fairtrade Policy and Fairtrade SMART action plan 2022. Plus we have achieved a one star accreditation in the Fairtrade University and College Award.

Electronics Watch We have electronics watch membership via the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium.
Can't Buy My Silence The University of Exeter has signed the Can't Buy My Silence university pledge. The Vice-Chancellor signed the pledge backed by the UK government, campaigners and several other UK universities, which is communicated on the website here




The Sustainable Food Policy is publicly available and is reviewed yearly with Senior Leadership Teams at Directorate level. This policy covers tender specifications with external partners.


The policy reflects the principles of the university's procurement strategy, sustainability goals, and climate emergency recommendations, along with commitments contained within our Fairtrade University Award.

The Sustainable Food Policy states that it will 'ensure that sustainability criteria are included in specifications to suppliers and used in the award of all contracts', together with 'monitor supplier compliance against the Sustainable Food Policy, which covers industry intelligence and new initiatives through regular contract account performance reviews'.

Framework for Continual Improvement Catering and Retail services achieved a 2 star accreditation against the Sustainable Restaurant Association Framework in September 2019. The full report can be viewed here. We have been unable to participate in the SRA assessment since 2019 due to the impact of Covid and the reduction in operation, and are pleased to announce that assessment will take place again in 2022.
Staff & Student Projects

The University supports multiple student and staff led projects with a focus on sustainable food, including;

In addition, student societies are provided free access to university rooms to meet, debate and contribute towards innovative ideas (see Event and Publicity Support).




The University does not have a bespoke policy for engagement with Sustainable Development, however the E&CE Policy Ownership and Engagement section has relevant targets with senior sponsors to be achieved by 2025.

Sustainability Policy & engagement opportunities in student induction

The university provides an online New Students Guide providing all students with information and requirements from 'getting ready' through to 'Term 1'.


The Climate Change Companion Pack is signposted via the University Life tab and also available via a link on the Sustainability website.


The Climate Change Companion Pack includes details on our climate emergency progress to date, how students can get involved, what they can do and signposts to the ECE Policy Statement. Our annual update ahead of the new academic year is currently underway.


In addition, the ECE team have a stall at the Freshers' Fayre to engage with incoming students around ECE and encourage participation in Green Rewards

Go Green / Sustainability Week

The university actively supports an annual Go Green Week / Sustainability Week. Details for 2022 are available here

Student-led Sustainability Project Fund

Green Futures Student Solutions is an annual fund available to students to contribute to the University Net Zero Agenda and gain project definition and management experience, with the support and funding from our own E&CE team. Students can apply for up to £3500 for their project. 5 projects were successful for the 2021/22 fund. 

Staff Inductions

Our LearnUpon Environment and Climate Emergency induction training is in place and will form part of our wider Climate Literacy Training for all staff and students. Sustainability forms part of all staff inductions – see tab 4. There is also E&CE representation at the virtual welcome event induction for staff.


The University has launched the South West Climate Action Network (SWeCAN) to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and collaboration between our staff and student community and the region.

Student and staff also collaborate through research projects with local businesses, see the green futures website for a list of participating organisations including TEVI and Exeter City Futures.

The University is in the process of establishing 3 Civic University Agreements with Exeter, Cornwall and Devon and Torbay.  These agreements will establish how the University will work in partnership with other anchor institutions in the region to help find solutions for society’s most pressing problems.  The mission includes ‘Deliver a net zero Exeter’ and ‘A carbon zero, high value economy’ for Cornwall & Isles of Scilly’ amongst others. 

 Committee Representation

Student representation is present on the following committees;

  • Council – elected Guild and Students’ Union representation
  • Senate
  • University Strategy - Strategy 2030 - our new University Strategy was created by our staff, student and alumni community and includes 'Leading meaningful action against the climate emergency and ecological crisis, as part of Our Vision. 
  • Investment Policy & Endowment Investment Group (see Investment Policy 8.2)
  • ECE Board - responsible for setting policy and priorities, maintaining oversight and approving the resource and delivery programmes for the Environment and Climate Emergency Response across the university.
  • All Environment and Climate Emergency Thematic Forums - proposing action, initiatives and projects that can tackle the forum-specific challenges associated with the Environment and Climate Emergency
  • Ethics Committee

Trade Union representatives are part of our Silver Incident Response Team, and are therefore part of open discussions regarding our way forward, including regarding our climate agenda. Further guidance on trade union representation can be found here

 Students' Unions Our Students’ Union at Penryn Campus is currently developing their own Sustainability Policy and accompanying action plan. The SU Green Committee is a group of students invested in cultivating campus sustainability, who lobby universities and drive behavioural change across campuses and their website lists achievements and training opportunities. Our Students’ Guild at Exeter have signed up to Green Impact this year. The Students’ Guild are part of the Societies Sustainability Alliance monthly meetings with the E&CE Team. 



Strategy & Senior Responsibility

The E&CE Policy statement 23 details a commitment to embed the Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Emergency Across the curriculum. This is owned by Prof Tim Quine (Deputy Vice Chancellor for Education).


The Education Strategy 2019-25, one of the university's Sovereign Strategies, has used the UN Sustainable Development Goals to inform the priorities outlined, such as an emphasis on global citizens and agents of change.



The Transformative Education Framework was introduced (as part of the implementation of the Success For All Strategy, a major strand of our Education Strategy) in 2021 to enable all students to see the challenges associated with the climate emergency, inequality and social injustice in their fields of study. See our video from our Vice Chancellor introducing the Transformative Education initiative. 


Future17 is a new global partnership being led by the University of Exeter with QS to enable students to meet the challenges posed by the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Students work in inter-institutional, interdisciplinary teams to provide solutions supplied by leading global companies, NGOs and governments. 


Living Lab

The institution has a large focus on delivering living lab opportunities. 


We work with a wide range of partners across sectors to develop solutions to the environment and climate emergency and stand ready to work with all organisations to achieve net zero together based on science, evidence and experience. Please visit the following sites for further details:


Other examples include:

  • Green Consultants
  • Grand Challenges
  • Create Your Future
  • The Exeter Award


The Education Thematic Forum provides a space for tackling the forum-specific challenges associated with the environment and climate emergency and have developed a project plan (Education Thematic Forum - Embedding the SDGs) for raising awareness and providing traning on delivering SDGs in the curriculum, to be progressed in 2022/23. 


As a university, we are committed to embedding the SDGs across all courses and the experience of our staff and students. To support this we have created 17 Vodcasts - one for each SDG - to highlight how we are approaching and contributing to the delivery of each. 

Research for Sustainable Development

For more than 20 years we have been leading the way in interdisciplinary research to better understand and tackle environment and climate change.

  • See the Green Futures website for information about our Research Institutes here.
  • See the Global System Institutions SDG aligned research here.
  • Find out more about the research taking place at our Environment & Sustainability Institute here.

See the Sanctuary Scholarship – we offer a minimum of 3 scholarships a year to individuals who are seeking asylum or have been granted a status as a result of an asylum claim. Eligible applicants include those who have limited leave to remain, Humanitarian Protection and Refugee status.


Details of the value of the Scholarship are listed on the Sanctuary Scholarship page and include a full tuition fee waiver plus a grant for living costs for eligible students and eligible programmes of study. Undergraduate students also receive a £2000 access to Exeter bursary during each year of study. 


We also offer a partial fee waiver to any undergraduate student who is seeking asylum, which reduces their fee to the home rate.  


See our Access and Participation Plan which details financial support and our commitment to better understand and address barriers for under-represented groups.

Careers Policy The university Career Zone has publicly available policy and guidelines covering the criteria and exclusions relating to working with the service, available here. The date of the update is shown at the top of the document. 
Careers Staff Names, roles and contact email for Student Employability and Academic Success (SEAS) staff are publicly available on the website, supported by a SEAS organigram.
Careers Service The 'About' section of the SEAS website states 'SEAS works with careers system software providers in partnership but is not part of a 'combined' careers service with other institutions. Details of the partnership with Handshake are available here



Energy Sources Our total percentage of renewable energy purchased through green tariffs is 41.4%.
Waste & Recycling

The percentage of waste recycled, composted or anaerobically digested, excluding construction waste (that classified as 'other' in the EMR) is 38.57%