Greenhouse gases are gases that absorb infrared radiation and radiate heat. Human activities are responsible for almost all the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years. This is the main cause of global climate change.
Our commitment to minimising greenhouse gas emissions
The University is committed to minimising greenhouse gas emissions and has joined Race to Zero and become carbon neutral certified to demonstrate this commitment.
Race to Zero
The University joined Race to Zero in April 2021. Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, educational institutions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. It mobilises ‘real economy' actors (including 572 Higher Education Institutions) in 120 countries in the largest ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. Collectively these actors now cover nearly 25% global CO2 emissions and over 50% GDP.
The objective is to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonised economy ahead of COP26 in Glasgow (Nov 2021), where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement. This action and outcome-focused campaign replaces and builds on the Global Climate Letter for Universities and Colleges (i.e., Climate Emergency Declaration).
By joining Race to Zero, the University has committed to the Race to Zero criteria. As a carbon neutral certified organisation, the University already meets all the criteria:
- Pledge: having a 2050 or sooner net zero target.
- Plan: explain what steps will be taken toward achieving net zero.
- Proceed: taking action towards net zero. Carbon neutral certification requires demonstrating where emissions reductions are being made, not just buying offsets.
- Publish: commit to report progress annually.
Carbon neutral certification
The University was certified as a carbon neutral organisation in 2017 (for its 2016 greenhouse gas inventory) by the Australian Government's Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard. To achieve carbon neutral certification, organisations must:
- Measure and reduce emissions where possible. Read about our initiatives and progress on this page the to find out more.
- Offset remaining emissions. Offset projects selected deliver benefits to the Tasmania community and to regions from which our international students originate, and provide co-benefits aligning with the University's values.
- Publicly report on their carbon neutrality. You can find the University's Public Disclosure Statements in the Climate Active certified organisations webpage, and the latest University's carbon inventory in the Our progress section below.
- Undertake independent validation (i.e. audit or verification) by an environmental auditor or carbon consultant at least once every three years. The University's latest independent audit (PDF 204.4 KB) was conducted in 2018.
Watch this interview with Dr Carmen Primo Perez, Senior Sustainability Officer, who explains carbon neutral certification to Diploma of Sustainable Living students.
Emissions Reduction Strategic Plan
To meet our commitment to climate action, Race to Zero and carbon neutral certification, the University has developed a comprehensive and ambitious Emissions Reduction Strategic Plan, which sets out how the University will accelerate and broaden climate action to address carbon emissions from all three emission scopes. Our efforts are guided by the 1.5°C Paris Target (IPCC pathway) that requires a global net anthropogenic GHG reduction of 45% by 2030 and reaching net zero before 2050.
Our objective is to set goals and deliver an ambitious plan for carbon reduction that are ahead of current global standards so that we are a model for how to transition our society and economy to a low to zero carbon basis. Thus, our Emissions Reduction Strategic Plan will reduce gross emissions by at least 50% by 2030 from a 2015 baseline year.
The Emissions Reduction Strategic Plan 2022-2030 (PDF 1.7MB) includes 42 measurable actions by emission source (covering scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions) with clear KPIs/targets, deadlines, indicative cost of implementation and responsibility.
The University has committed to applying a negative investment screen to fossil fuels and a positive screen to companies and funds which contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and completely divested from fossil fuel-exposed investment funds at the end of 2021.
These commitments have been explicitly or implicitly embedded in relevant University policies, strategies and procedures such as:
- Sustainability Policy
- Sustainable Transport Strategy (PDF 1.8 MB)
- Energy Strategic Plan (PDF 914.5 KB)
- Waste Minimisation Action Plan (PDF 607.5 KB)
Our greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiatives
In the past years, the University has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Examples of emissions reduction initiatives undertaken at the University of Tasmania include:
- >34% reduction in embodied carbon for the new Inveresk Rivers Edge and Willis St. building designs.
- Electrode boiler, diesel and LPG fuel source replacement with natural gas at various facilities, as well as energy performance contracts, building management and control systems upgrades.
- On-going photovoltaic generation in a number of University of Tasmania facilities.
- The implementation of a number of sustainable transport initiatives from the University of Tasmania Sustainable Transport Strategy.
- The high volume of carbon neutral certified paper purchased between 2013 and 2017.
- The Re-use Program, an online system for the cataloguing and claiming of reusable furniture.
Other initiatives include a number of energy efficiency projects (e.g., changing older fluorescent and halogen lamps to LED; upgrade of hydronic distribution systems), increased focus on ‘virtual transport’ such as videoconferencing and Skype for Business for business purposes, or encouraging sustainable behaviour (e.g., Green Impact Program for staff engagement, student challenges and competitions, data displays, holiday shutdown). Although it is difficult to quantify the impact of these initiatives on greenhouse gas emissions reductions, it is likely to be significant.
- Latest University of Tasmania Greenhouse Gas Inventory (PDF 1.6 MB)
- Greenhouse gas emissions infographic (PDF 157.2 KB)
- Additionally, the University of Tasmania reports its greenhouse gas emissions under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act 2007, and the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA) benchmarking survey.
All the objects and many of our everyday activities have a carbon footprint, i.e., generate greenhouse gas emissions (from production, transport, use and/or disposal), with the subsequent environmental impact.
- Participate in the Sustainability Integration Program for Students (SIPS) with a greenhouse gas emissions or climate change related project.
- Think about the more sustainable alternatives to everything you purchase and to your activities as the simplest way to limit our carbon footprint. There are many things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, but the first and most urgent solution is undoubtedly reducing consumption. The more we consume, the more of the planet's resources we use, and the more movement in production, distribution and disposal we generate, with the subsequent rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Find your climate questions answered by Curious Climate Tasmania, with contributions from the Centre for Marine Socio-ecology (CMS), the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), the University of Tasmania (UTAS), ABC Radio, The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
- Go to transport, resource and waste management, energy and water for specific actions you can take in those areas.