News Food for the Planet

Cardiff top of the class but most UK Universities failing to reach emissions reduction targets

Cardiff Metropolitan University has topped the People & Planet University League for the first time, having decreased carbon emissions by 65%.

People and Planet University Green League. Credit:

People and Planet University Green League. Credit:

The 2022/23 league table, compiled by People and Planet, ranked 153 UK universities against sustainability and ethics criteria. It found that 59% of universities did not meet the sector-wide target of reducing direct emissions by 43% between 2005/6 and 2020/21.

The University of Bedfordshire took top spot in England after being among the first universities in the UK to stop recruiting graduates for the fossil fuel industry. The higher education sector recently passed a landmark achievement of 100 UK universities making a declaration to divest from fossil fuels. 

Food policies lacking

Universities are scored on their food policies as part of the league table, including whether sustainable food standards are embedded in tenders and contracts, and whether they are supporting student led food projects like food growing and food coops.

One third of Universities scored none of the points available for food, despite food and farming making up a third of global emissions and universities being responsible for serving millions of meals per day to students and staff. Eight Universities scored full marks for food, they are; University of Edinburgh, King's College London, University of Reading, University of Sussex, University College London, University of The Arts London, Cardiff Metropolitan University and University of Worcester.


J Clarke, Co-Director of Climate Campaigns at People & Planet said:

'With significant movement in the 2022/23 People & Planet University League ranking it is clear that complacency is not an option for institutions seeking to perform well on ethics and sustainability criteria. One key area that UK universities must take action on is ending recruitment relationships with oil, gas and mining companies, highlighted by only 3% of the sector having implemented such policies in the year’s ranking. It is vital that we end the recruitment pipeline into the industries most responsible for the climate crisis, and universities meet that challenge urgently.'

Published Friday 9 December 2022

Food for the Planet: Food for the Planet is helping local authorities, businesses and organisations take simple actions to tackle the climate and nature emergency through food.

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