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To create a viable framework for measuring and reporting universities' carbon footprint, a standardised approach towards measuring and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is necessary. However, every university has unique factors, making the carbon reduction of these organisations complex.
Dr Iuna Tsyrulneva and Dr Sulfikar Amir of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore presented their solutions for transparently reducing campus carbon emissions.
Studies have shown that the students-to-staff ratio, geography, university size, and research intensity factors are not indicative of carbon dioxide emissions. This suggests that these factors alone do not provide enough information to measure a university's carbon footprint accurately.
However, the level of carbon emissions per capita at a university strongly correlates with national carbon footprint per capita. This means that universities in countries with higher standards of living, more developed economies, higher consumption rates, and larger urban areas are likely to have higher carbon footprints.
Understanding the contextual factors that influence a university's carbon footprint can help guide efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability on campus. Contextual factors include the university's location, size, research activity level, national economy, and living standards.
A possible solution to reduce the carbon footprint of campuses is to collect the most relevant data on emissions sources.
Dr Iuna Tsyrulneva and Dr Sulfikar Amir concluded that adding the transparency factor to reporting is essential for evaluating and comparing the carbon footprint of universities. University administrations will also be incentivised by rewards for their transparency in reporting their carbon footprint.
The combined assessment score would enable universities to compete with each other in reducing emissions and increasing the transparency and availability of data. Consistent emissions tracking also helps instil public trust in reporting and demonstrates a university's commitment to dynamic changes towards reducing its carbon footprint.
You can calculate your carbon footprint here and find ways to give back to nature via nature-restoration projects, green bonds, or tree-planting subscriptions.
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