ANU to go greenhouse gas negative and cut carbon investments in climate change offensive

Ian Bushnell 28 February 2020 27
Australia's unprecedented summer of bushfires

Australia’s unprecedented summer of bushfires, smoke and a hailstorm has prompted the ANU Council’s resolution on climate change. Photo: Region Media.

The Australian National University plans to make the campus greenhouse gas negative and further reduce its investment exposure to carbon intensive industries such as coal mining.

After an unprecedented summer of bushfires and extreme weather, the ANU Council has called for urgent action to address the growing challenge of climate change.

In a resolution from its latest meeting, the ANU Council also said the university would step up its advocacy and act and “speak strongly in public” to help address climate change across the university and more widely.

The resolution noted Australians and the ANU community had to deal with severe weather events, including bushfires, smoke and a hailstorm, which caused widespread damage to research facilities.

“These unprecedented severe events have been exacerbated by climate change, as ANU scientists, among others, have long predicted and warned,” the resolution reads.

“ANU needs to respond to these challenges with a continued focus on world-leading climate research and adapt to climate change.

“The ANU Council therefore recognises the urgency of action to address the growing climate challenge, to which the university will respond collectively, using the resources at its disposal.”

This includes making the ANU greenhouse gas negative “as soon as possible”, an idea flagged in ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt’s 2020 State of the University address.

Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute Professor Mark Howden and his colleagues have been called upon to spearhead this goal.

Professor Howden said the first step would be to reduce emissions from the heating of buildings, the ANU’s vehicle fleet, research activities, travel and many minor sources.

“There are often available technologies to do this such as by using electric cars which are charged via the ACT’s renewable electricity. Importantly, the IPCC shows that to keep global temperatures to within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels we also have to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – going to net negative emissions,” he said.

“This is the aim of the ANU Below Zero initiative. One way of doing this is via management of the trees and soil in the University’s land holdings or, as an interim option, via purchased verified carbon offsets.”

ANU research glasshouse

An ANU research glasshouse shattered by January’s intense hail storm. Photo: Region Media.

The ANU’s Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Policy already says its investment managers must not invest in companies that derive more than 20 per cent of revenues from coal, gambling, tobacco or pornography, and investments must decrease the university’s investment exposure to CO2 intensive industries without increasing its exposure to volatility in the equities markets.

A report last year said in 2018 the ANU had made significant progress in ensuring the carbon intensity of its investment portfolio remained well below the respective industry benchmarks, while maintaining a solid return on the investment portfolio.

At 31 December 2018, the university’s Long Term Investment Pool (LTIP) amounted to $1.2 billion.

Speaking on the council’s resolution, ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop said the extreme weather events experienced at ANU this summer reflected a much broader national and global challenge.

“Australia is seen by the rest of the world as the frontline when it comes to the impact of climate change with the disastrous bushfires, the torrential rain and floods that have devastated so much of our community including our wildlife,” Ms Bishop said.

“We understand the challenge and that we have the resources with our world-leading research here at ANU to help address these problems.

“It’s important for us to raise our concerns and be a leader in ensuring that there is as much information available for the development of policies and initiatives to adapt and mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Professor Schmidt said universities had a big role to play when it came to addressing climate change.

“Universities need to make it easy for people to see how climate change can be mitigated in the future,” he said.

“There are solutions to how we use energy and how we mitigate the emissions in the future. That comes down to people and technology. And universities of course are all about people and technology.

“Universities are ultimately going to be where the solutions lie to mitigating the effects of climate change and stopping greenhouse gas emissions in the future.

“At ANU we want to lead on this issue. The university has made a decision that it is going to go greenhouse gas negative in the near future because we think we can and to show society that it is not that difficult.”

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
27 Responses to ANU to go greenhouse gas negative and cut carbon investments in climate change offensive
Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:46 am 26 Feb 20

The diesel powered pop-up EV stations are even on the Nullabor Plain.

    IrishPete IrishPete 10:26 am 05 Feb 21

    Joanna Nova dot com is a satirical website, surely?

Rauny Worm Rauny Worm 7:06 am 26 Feb 20

Yes we can

Monica Tiffen Monica Tiffen 10:59 pm 23 Feb 20

Should be interesting???? It will be a LOT harder to carry out!!!!

Mark Flynn Mark Flynn 8:11 pm 23 Feb 20

Depending on what China says.

Kuan Bartel Kuan Bartel 1:54 pm 23 Feb 20

You mean they still had investments in coal and fossil fuels? They should be ashamed and apologising for their actions, not patting themselves on the back for finally trusting the overwhelming mountain of scientific evidence.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:21 pm 23 Feb 20

There was mention in one post of a shopping trolley full of items wrapped in plastic to protect the contents which were probably mostly food.

With the supply chain mayhem about to hit because of Chinese factories (where most of the plastic wrappings come from) are closing due to the coranavirus, the plastic pollution problem is about to cease. The food that it used to wrap will disappear too.

    Gilavon Gilavon 3:47 pm 23 Feb 20

    Yep, can’t go back to paper bags, think of all the murdered trees.

Graham Smith Graham Smith 8:58 am 23 Feb 20

Good to see ANU taking action to contribute to emissions reduction.

We all add to emissions the load on the atmosphere, and we all have a responsibility to contribute to reducing them.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:38 am 23 Feb 20

Is ANU about to create a degree course in virtue signalling?

    Gilavon Gilavon 3:44 pm 23 Feb 20

    It would be unprecedentedly unprecedented to match the unprecedentedly unprecedented hype and alarm.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:05 pm 23 Feb 20

    I sense some doubt in what you say.

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 11:08 pm 24 Feb 20


    IrishPete IrishPete 10:27 am 05 Feb 21

    A term only used by those with none to speak of…

Scott Daniel Bowen Scott Daniel Bowen 4:58 am 23 Feb 20

So arsonists created climate alarmism?

Steve Jones Steve Jones 7:50 pm 22 Feb 20

How do most of your students get to Canberra??? By JET Aircraft.

So really you can not cut carbon investments.

    Peter Marshall Peter Marshall 7:55 pm 22 Feb 20

    The university could easily offset the emissions from those flights.

    Steve Jones Steve Jones 10:10 pm 22 Feb 20

    Doubt it.

    Peter Robinson Peter Robinson 10:41 pm 22 Feb 20

    Steve Jones , yep Off Set not delete them. Terrific post the other day , noted in shopping trolley, 90 % of the goods were either sealed or wrapped in plastic of some description, yet the plastic bags to carry the goods in are the targeted thing. They have all the brilliant ideas but all drive cars , fly in planes catch taxis trains buses etc to get to a meeting to say how bad it is. Mmmm

    Karl Kovach Karl Kovach 2:00 am 23 Feb 20

    stop pretending like you don’t understand that these are the choices we have right now and that is exactly what we are all trying to change - come up with a lot more choices and greener transport solutions. What, is someone supposed to walk 400 kms to get to a meeting? Stop being ridiculous and either start contributing or get out of the way.

    Steve Jones Steve Jones 1:49 pm 23 Feb 20

    Peter Robinson and usually 3 people to a Lear jet.

    Peter Robinson Peter Robinson 1:54 pm 23 Feb 20

    Steve Jones , yeah I'm also loving the diesel powered generators to charge the Green electric cars starting to pop up around the place. Put a $30 thousand dollar solar system in at home or a couple small wind turbines up in suburbia to charge them and your a idiot for suggesting that.. Not to sure where they think the power comes from and that's only the tip of it...

    Gerry Satrapa Gerry Satrapa 7:28 am 25 Feb 20

    Peter Robinson “starting to pop up around the place”... like; where, exactly?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:14 pm 22 Feb 20

“….the ANU Council has called for urgent action to address the growing challenge of climate change…..”

Including more resilient greenhouses?

Les Eite Les Eite 4:21 pm 22 Feb 20

So no cars on campus

Paul South Paul South 10:23 am 22 Feb 20

Come up with a different economic system that works . Consumption based economics sux .

Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 10:12 am 22 Feb 20

"because we think we can and to show society that it is not that difficult"

And THAT is how you lead!

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site