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Title: A universal method for accounting greenhouse gas emissions from the activities of higher education institutions using a hybrid life-cycle approach
Author: Robinson, Oliver
ISNI:       0000 0004 8509 8122
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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Organisations of all types are significant contributors to international greenhouse gas emissions and the business case for supporting low-carbon practices is gathering pace. Three noteworthy barriers to reporting greenhouse gas emissions in a Higher Education context, namely, time resources, financial resources, and data quality, were found to hinder the production of full greenhouse gas emission assessments encompassing all Scope 1, 2 and, 3 value chain sources. Higher Education Institutions are chosen for study due to their positioning as key components of education systems across the globe. Transcendent of international borders, socio-political regimes, and economic systems, the sector is a significant actor on climate issues. Overseeing education and research activities, institutions are often likened to towns in their size and operational scope. The carbon reduction targets of institutions in the United Kingdom are assessed for pragmatism and were deemed overambitious. Furthermore, they do not account for Scope 3 sources, often the largest proportion of the carbon footprint. A critical assessment of common organisational greenhouse gas assessment methodologies was undertaken and a gap in knowledge highlighted. Whilst theoretical environmental standards are designed to be universally applicable, their practical application to higher education is little explored and in practice, debatable. A theoretical methodology, sympathetic to university environmental practitioners’ requirements was proposed to bridge this gap. Clear and unambiguous guidance that avoided assumptions was developed. Among the numerous benefits, the use of external data sources was reduced and the potential for double counting was eradicated through the use of cut-off criteria, which excluded all paid-for Scope 3 services. The methodology performed favourably against three baseline test parameters: a baseline of 150 hours to complete the emissions assessment, corresponding to financial costs of £24,200 and to satisfy the requirements of the verification standard, ISO14064-part 3. A series of potential strategies, incorporating the use of the proposed methodology (verifiable using industry verification standards) were outlined: whilst the sector should make ambitious pledges to decarbonise along the trajectory set by the Paris agreement, it should not be at the expense of quality research and teaching.
Supervisor: Williams, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available