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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.

The University is committed to support the creation of a zero-carbon economy, as demonstrated by:

  • Being carbon neutral certified since 2016
  • Committing to full divestment by the end of 2021
  • Joining Race to Zero (previously Global Climate Letter for Universities and Colleges) in 2021

Read more about these initiatives in the 'Our Commitment' section.


You can fight climate change and help the University

University's Emissions Reduction Plan

You can contribute to the development of the University's Emissions Reduction Plan. See an introduction by emission source and follow the instructions to add your ideas or go to the online EasyRetro board (open until 15 November 2021):

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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, UTAS has committed to the Race to Zero criteria. As a carbon neutral certified organisation, UTAS 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 Commonwealth Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard. To achieve carbon neutral certification, organisations must:

  • Measure and reduce emissions where possible. Read the Greenhouse gas emissions management at UTAS and Our progress sections below 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.

Divestment

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, with the aim to completely divest from fossil fuel-exposed investment funds by the end of 2021.


These commitments have been explicitly or implicitly embedded in relevant University's policies, strategies and procedures such as:

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. 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


You can browse the list of completed Sustainability Integration Program for Students (SIPS) projects, grants and awards to find initiatives that have helped UTAS reduce its greenhouse gas emissions..

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, the more movement in production, distribution and disposal we generate, with the subsequent rise in greenhouse gas emission.
  • 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.

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