Exploring barriers to carbon management in UK universities

M. Mazhar, Hassan Amar, R. Bull, M. Lemon, P.M. Rafi-ul-Shan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


In the race to Net Zero by 2050, organisations including universities are under pressure from governments and stakeholders to reduce carbon emissions. The University sector in the UK has significant social, environmental, and economic impacts alongside a leadership role in the society and is not exempt from challenging carbon reduction aspirations. Carbon management is gaining attention in academia, however, research in this area from an organisational perspective is in early phase. This paper explores barriers to carbon management in UK universities and highlights key challenges to be addressed. This research adopted a mixed-methods approach including a content analysis of eighteen universities’ carbon management plans (CMPs) and seventeen semi-structured interviews with middle and senior managers in UK universities and other stakeholder organisations. The study found that UK universities are facing major barriers, namely, lack of funding, lack of stakeholder engagement - staff and student engagement, lack of human resources, lack of senior management leadership, complex buildings stock, estate development & business growth, potential conflicts & core business priorities and energy & carbon intensive research. The acknowledgement of these barriers could help senior and middle managers responsible for implementing carbon management strategies to achieve net zero by 2050 at the very latest.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Academy of Management 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021

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