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Environmental sustainability strategy

Shared mission, values and vision

We support the University’s mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. This mission drives our commitment to sustainability and concern for the environment, and we are determined to make a positive impact through industry-leading environmental stewardship throughout our global organisation. We recognise there is a climate emergency, and the responsibility we have to mobilise to address it.

Shared principles

Our shared principles with the University are:

  • To build on our academic excellence to enable positive change through our scholarly and educational research, knowledge transfer, learning and assessment.
  • To protect and enhance the natural environment by reducing our direct environmental impact.
  • To create a culture where the University community is engaged, empowered and supported in improving their personal and collective environmental sustainability practices.
  • To maximise the wider positive impact of the University’s environmental sustainability actions at local, national and international level through communication, collaboration, partnership working and advocacy.
Strategic approach

This strategy aims not only to make us accountable and transparent in all activities relating to carbon reduction but also to go further, weaving environment and sustainability thinking into our research publishing, teaching and learning materials, curricula and assessments. We will be guided by international frameworks such as the UN Global Compact and Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, and seek to work within recognised environmental management systems such as ISO standard 14001. We aim to be a trusted leader in the drive for a sustainable world and this will be achieved through emphasis on the following objectives and priorities.

Decision-making

We will embed consideration of sustainability and carbon reduction into our decision-making. We will ensure our Boards and investment committees incorporate reviews of environmental impacts in decision-making relating to our relevant activities and projects.

Publishing and assessment activities

Publishing: We will build on the Press’ position as a leading climate science and sustainability publisher.

Curriculum: We will seek to increase knowledge and understanding of environment and sustainability issues in developing curricula, educational programmes and forms of examination/testing/assessment.

Research: We will stimulate collaboration between every discipline which intersects with climate and sustainability at all stages of the research cycle and will compete with the leading publications to attract and disseminate the best quality research across existing product types and new and innovative channels.

Engagement: We will build a community around our climate and sustainability publishing and maximise engagement with our research, synthesising the research for the widest possible audience including policy makers and non-specialists to raise awareness of and inform debates and policy around critical issues. We will engage colleagues with the issues and initiatives and empower them to take action in support of these.

Education: We will build on our track record for the creation of high-quality curricula, learning and testing/assessment resources from primary through to postgraduate levels, including through expanding our higher education publishing to develop online learning courses in collaboration with the University.

We will help to generate ideas and innovations to shape a sustainable future, such as through supporting Cambridge Zero, the University's climate initiative, and equip future generations of leaders with the skills to navigate the global challenges of the coming decades.

Industry-leading

This strategy intends to position us as a leader, for our customers, partners and stakeholders across the marketplace, and we will promote our commitment to sustainable growth. Building on existing reputation and brand, we intend to implement a best-in-class approach on all carbon-reduction activities whilst building market confidence and encouraging all our customers and partners to follow the same ethical decision-making in end to end activities. We will be bold in our ambition to lead on environment and sustainability thinking within our industry, and strive to inspire and model best practice, but equally, to learn from and be inspired by our customers, suppliers and other publishers on our continuing journey.

Implementation of targets

Capturing carbon emissions data enables us to quantify our significant impacts. We have adopted the Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard that provides us with the framework to support and identify emission reduction opportunities by measuring and managing our greenhouse gases that addresses both direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scopes 2 and 3) emissions. Our overall carbon reduction commitment is to achieve absolute zero carbon for scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2048, though we aspire to bring that forward by at least 10 years to 2038.

We also commit to setting more detailed centralised greenhouse gas emission reduction targets based on expertise from recommended and recognised scientific and business specialists. Science-based Targets (SBTs) will be implemented across both organisations to promote accountability and transparency against globally baselined statistics. Robust, auditable systems will be employed to track, measure and action reduction opportunities.

To support us in communicating our approach and our impact, we also commit to participating in relevant award-based frameworks, such as the Green Impact and Independent Publishing Awards.

Data collection and management

To ensure adherence to global targets, we will improve data collection, management and accuracy. Cultural and technical change will be required to support environmental activities and reporting, resulting in a better understanding of how data is collected, where it is collected from and how it is reported and maintained. Improvement of existing data quality will also be targeted, with supporting tools to enable tracking of progress against our SBTs. Early identification of emission-reducing opportunities will be critical to meet agreed goals.

Alignment of approaches and policies

To enhance our ability to meet our targets, we will align key approaches and policies across our organisations, such as in relation to global procurement, ecommerce and digital strategies; travel; sales and marketing; approaches to warehousing and returns; and management information reporting requirements. Further alignment with Cambridge University will also be critical to success.

Involvement, clear communication and knowledge sharing Cultural change management and strong communication are essential in ensuring our success. We want to encourage our colleagues to feel shared ownership of this strategy, and will seek to grow knowledge and understanding and welcome everyone’s ideas. Our environmental sustainability strategy must play a central role in all operational activities internally, with colleagues receiving regular communications, training and the opportunity to feedback in an evolving and collaborative process.

It is critical that Cambridge Assessment and the Press ensure that all stakeholders are well informed of organisational intentions and our collective progress. We will make sure our learners, customers, authors, suppliers and stakeholders are aware of and understand our commitments and challenges. A calendar of regular and consistent external communication and marketing will be maintained to maximise this awareness.

Prioritisation and adaptation

Our environmental sustainability strategy will have clear priorities and direction at all times. Flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly to global market and political change is critical. Building robust and resilient systems and processes and ensuring rigorous ongoing measurement of targets will support achieving these aims.

Terminology

Greenhouse gas: Gases in Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG): A global standardised framework for businesses and governments to measure and manage climate-warming emissions. Commonly used by countries participating in the Paris Agreement, adopted within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in December 2015.

Scopes: Greenhouse gas emissions are typically classified into one of three “scopes” by the GHG protocol:

  • Scope 1. Direct emissions, primarily from carbon-based fuel combustion, including operational
  • vehicles, but also fugitive emissions due to refrigerant leaks;
  • Scope 2. Emissions which arise from purchased electricity, heat, steam, etc. – but whose
  • production is from carbon-based fuel
  • Scope 3. All other emissions, notably those that arise from:
  • Purchased goods and services, including the materials and processes used in constructing new buildings
  • Business travel
  • Employee commuting
  • Waste disposal
  • Investments
environment scopes 1, 2, and 3 explained diagram

Source: Bahtia and Ranganathan, 2004

Carbon footprint: The amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by an individual or specific group, event, or product; measured in tonnes. The most important and frequently referenced greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Most typically measured as how many tons of carbon dioxide are emitted per year.

Carbon zero: No carbon emissions being produced from a product/service/organisation e.g. zerocarbon electricity could be provided by a certified 100% renewable energy supplier.

Carbon neutral: Also referred to as net zero; some emissions are still being generated by a building/process but these emissions are being offset somewhere else making the overall net emissions zero.

Offset/offsetting: A process of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in one place, to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. For example, a company could choose to offset the carbon it emits running a fleet of petrol cars by planting enough trees to absorb the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the fleet.

 

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