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Greenhouse gas emissions

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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.

The University is responsible for the direct or indirect emission of greenhouse gases from different sources. Some important emission sources are the use of electricity, fuels for stationary and transport purposes, business travel, commuting, waste to landfill, and construction.

You can now fight climate change and help the University to maintain its carbon neutral certification by using UCapture - for free!

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Carbon neutral certification

The University is committed to minimising the emission of greenhouse gas emissions and was certified as a carbon neutral organisation in 2017 (for its 2016 greenhouse gas inventory) by the Commonwealth Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard (previously known as National Carbon Offset Standard or NCOS). Carbon neutral certification against Climate Active provides a credible stamp showing that an organisation has met all the requirements of the Standard.

To achieve carbon neutral certification, entities must:

  • Measure and reduce emissions where possible: Read more in our Greenhouse gas emissions management at UTAS and Our progress sections below to find out more about UTAS greenhouse gas emissions and emissions reduction initiatives
  • 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 documents in the Climate Active certified organisations webpage.
  • 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 205 KB) was conducted in 2018.

This commitment has been explicitly or imokicitly embedded in relevant University’s policies, strategies and procedures such as:

Watch this interview with Dr Carmen Primo Perez, Sustainability Officer, who explains carbon neutral certification to Diploma of Sustainable Living students

Reporting

Additionally, UTAS 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.

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:

  • 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. This action reduced the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2,540 t CO2-e between 2006 and 2015
  • On-going photovoltaic generation in a number of UTAS facilities avoided the emission of 77 t CO2-e between 2012 and 2018
  • The implementation of a number of sustainable transport initiatives from the UTAS Sustainable Transport Strategy led to an estimated reduction of 512 t CO2-e in relation to staff commuting based on comparison of the 2015 and 2017 results of the biennial UTAS Travel Behaviour Survey
  • The high volume of carbon neutral certified paper purchased between 2013 and 2017, led to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 544 t CO2-e
  • The Re-use Program started in Sandy Bay in late 2016 and was expanded to all University facilities in Tasmania in 2017. This is an online system for the cataloguing and claiming of re-usable furniture. The program avoided the emission of 48 t CO2-e between 2016 and 2018, as reported by the software provider

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.

Greenhouse gas emissions data

SIPS projects

Grants and awards

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.

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, the more movement in production, distribution and disposal we generate, with the subsequent rise in greenhouse gas emission. Thinking about the alternatives to everything you purchase and to your activities is currently the simplest way to limit our carbon footprint.

Find your climate questions answered by Curious Climate Tasmania, with contributions from the Centre for Marine Socioecology (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.

For more information on greenhouse gas emissions, contact sustainability.utas@utas.edu.au