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King’s Climate & Sustainability Action Plan

Our Climate & Sustainability Action Plan (CSAP) sets out 14 key impact areas to guide the university’s approach to sustainability and climate change, informed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which set targets for holistic and sustainable global development by 2030.

The CSAP was first published in February 2023 to set out our ambition to address sustainability and the climate emergency. In February 2024, we published a second iteration as part of an annual review undertaken in late 2023 and early 2024 managed by the King’s Climate & Sustainability team.  

A structured annual review process has been established along with continuous community input to ensure that objectives, targets and KPIs are up to date and our principles on climate and sustainability are embedded effectively in activities across King’s. The CSAP was reviewed alongside other key documents across the University to ensure alignment across all plans and integration of relevant targets.

The CSAP will continue to be reviewed throughout the year as part of the annual review process, and a third iteration will be published in February 2025. We invite you to feedback on our plans, raise new ideas, challenge and collaborate with us. Please contact us at  

The first iteration report was developed by the King's Climate & Sustainability team in consultation with students, staff, alumni and members of King’s Climate Action Network (King’s CAN), key deliverables include:

  • At least a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, across energy use, business travel, our supply chain, commuting and waste
  • Ensuring sustainability and climate education is embedded into all King’s degree programmes by 2026
  • A four-fold increase in climate and sustainability research activity by 2029
  • Increasing investments with socially responsible benefits to 40% by 2025
  • Development of guidance on internal carbon pricing, to ensure we can better align financial decision-making criteria with King’s climate action goals

The plan prioritises absolute reduction of carbon emissions over offsetting, which compensates for emissions by funding equivalent carbon dioxide savings elsewhere, and carbon removals, which includes natural strategies like tree restoration and agricultural soil management. That is why we have now set a 2030 net zero target to give us more time to focus and invest in direct emissions reductions on our estate and in our operations.

14 key impact areas guide King’s approach to sustainability and climate change

Coloured boxes listing the Climate & Sustainability Action Plan's 13 key impact areas

Our progress so far

King’s has been taking action on climate and sustainability for many years. In 2021, we fully divested from investments in fossil fuels almost two years ahead of target and we have successfully reduced emissions under the university’s direct control by more than half in the last 15 years.

All of this happened while King's estate size was growing, and our student numbers and research volume was increasing.

It was achieved through actions such as improving energy efficiency and maximising space utilisation of our existing estate, as well as encouraging behaviour change through our Sustainability Champions programme.

2024 update

Progress has been monitored across all sections of the CSAP and substantial advancements have been made in certain key areas, including establishing a thorough climate & sustainability governance structure with a Steering Group and a number of different Working Groups. Changes mostly focus on reorganisation and updating outdated target dates, and key changes include the introduction of a model for Education for Sustainability at King’s, updates to incorporate the ongoing sustainable travel policy review and the development of a net zero business case. The Carbon Sinks section has been renamed to Biodiversity and a new section on Philanthropy has been added. The carbon reduction targets have been moved into the relevant sections of the Actions Table for clarity. For transparency, a sticker has been used to indicate various major changes to this iteration of the CSAP.

Some targets in the CSAP were set for 2022-23. Where the target has been met, the action has been updated. Where the target has not yet been met but is still relevant, the date has been updated to this academic year or a more realistic timeframe. These challenges will be further discussed in our 2024 reporting. Some additional targets have been added and/or achieved due to the nature of this fast-changing environment.

King’s key targets (including emissions, water and waste reduction) remain a priority area of focus and are due to undergo a thorough review and analysis in 2024-25 to assess whether we remain on track to meet our ambitions, followed by a regular review of the overall net-zero targets for the University. The development of the net zero business case in 2024-25 as well as the work by the newly created Carbon Offsetting Group to develop a reliable approach to carbon offsetting for the organisation will also bear an impact on this.

Timeline graphic

As a signatory to the global Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges, we will continue to make a difference through our supply chain and investments, by engaging our community in behaviour change and through the work we collectively do to achieve our sustainability targets.


King’s Climate & Sustainability is initially a three-year transformative project to accelerate change and create the foundations and momentum that will ensure delivery of the strategic goals:

  • Grow substantially the volume and quality of environment and sustainability research and our research impact by 2029; including development of distinctive and high-quality programmes and centres of excellence/institutes with visibility and critical mass
  • Provide environment, climate and sustainability education for all King’s students through the core curriculum (all King’s UG to have provision by 2026), strengthen extra-curricular education such as the KEATS Sustainability & Climate module, and expand research enhanced PGT, CPD and Exec Education
  • Continue making plans and investments to accelerate King’s progress towards its 2030 emissions targets (Scope 1, 2, 3 emissions reductions of 50%) and Net Zero target (demonstrable contributions by 2025 and 2030 to achieving King’s initial emissions targets), engaging our entire community to achieve these goals
  • Reposition and build King’s profile to include excellence and contributions to UK and global sustainability problem-solving in areas including policy, business, and civil society
  • Attract substantial philanthropic funding for new environment, climate and sustainability education, research, and impact

It is sponsored by the Senior Vice President (Academic) and Senior Vice President (Operations), and led by a newly appointed Assistant Principal (King’s Climate & Sustainability). Progress, structure, and longer-term direction will be reviewed after the initial three years.

The King’s Climate & Sustainability Steering Group provides oversight, advocacy and accountability for the delivery of the three-year programme and planning for continued progress after the three years. The Group is chaired by the Senior Vice-President (Academic) and core membership includes (Senior) Vice Presidents, Executive Deans, Directors of various directorates, and general student and staff representatives. The Group meets three times per year.

The Steering Group is supported by three dedicated Working Groups to help the university deliver on its education, research, and net zero targets.

The Education Working Group has been established to shape and enable Education for Sustainable Development in all aspects of King’s education and to facilitate the development of high-quality new programmes. The Group meets at least once per term and is chaired by the Assistant Principal (King’s Climate & Sustainability). Core membership includes academic and professional services representatives from faculties, King’s Climate & Sustainability, the Students & Education Directorate, King’s Academy, King’s Online, KCLSU, and student representatives.

The Research and Innovation Working Group has been created to provide vision, expertise and creativity ensuring that King’s ambitions for rapid development of research and research income are achieved. The Group meets at least once per term and is chaired by the Assistant Principal (King’s Climate & Sustainability). Core membership includes Vice Deans (Research), academics representing all faculties, colleagues from the Research Management & Innovation Directorate and a PhD student representative. 

The Net Zero Operations & Delivery Group has been established to help drive achievement of King’s net zero targets, as set out in the King’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plan. The Group meets at least twice per term. Core membership includes colleagues from Estates & Facilities, Real Estate Development, Finance, Procurement, Organisational Development, Strategic Communications & External Engagement, Strategy, Planning & Analytics, King’s Health Partners, and student/staff representatives.  

In addition, an External Advisory Board is being established to provide strategic perspective, challenge and guidance to King's Climate & Sustainability's leadership and committees. This Group will be pivotal in influencing King’s leadership and guiding it to navigate the rapidly changing external and international policy and funding landscape, and to connect with businesses, Government and third-sector organisations. 

Get involved and take action

More about climate and sustainability at King's