Our survey results indicate that the primary barrier to achieving carbon neutrality is financial – 66% of respondents indicated that their institution either lacks the financial resources to achieve carbon neutrality or has other priorities for those resources. Based on follow-up qualitative interviews, the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to present issues for budgeting and financial resources.
Perhaps not surprisingly, 63% of respondents indicated that their administration is experiencing pressure from their student population, mostly around divestment (32%), more on-campus renewable energy (25%), and/or a more aggressive carbon neutrality goal (18%).
When asked which sector of emissions was the most daunting, 47% indicated Scope 3 emissions in some shape or form. These emissions are typically the most difficult to measure accurately, and consequently reduce or eliminate.
8 of the 10 survey respondents who indicated their institution had achieved carbon neutrality noted that there is still a commitment to further reduce on-campus emissions.
Higher Ed Barriers to Carbon Neutrality Survey Results Download Form
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1 EUAC, Race to Zero: Universities & Colleges, https://www.educationracetozero.org
2 Nelnet Renewable Energy surveyed 252 sustainability professionals, students, and faculty members through an anonymous questionnaire from May through July of 2022. The population included respondents from 38 US states and 17 countries.