CO2 footprint

Utrecht University aims to be climate neutral by 2030. Every year since 2014, the university has published the greenhouse gas emissions caused by its activities. The total CO2 emissions in 2021 were 38,312 tonnes. This is much less (39 per cent less) than in 2019, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Like 2020, this measurement year is not representative and no conclusions about policy can be drawn from it. Utrecht University's low emissions in 2021 are in themselves good news however: it is well known that climate change is ultimately about the cumulative amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Therefore, the simple rule is: the fewer emissions, the better.

Categories CO2 emissions 2021

The main categories of CO2 emissions are natural gas consumption (44.1 per cent), commuting (8.1 per cent), agriculture (8.1 per cent) and air travel (5.4 per cent). In addition, emissions from fuel generation (especially natural gas) make up 29.1 per cent of the total. Natural gas consumption remained almost constant. Buildings of the university and campus partners largely remained open – and thus heated.

In 2021, own renewable sources constituted 5.9 per cent of the energy used. Together with the purchase of wind energy and green gas certificates, the share of renewables was 61.22 per cent of the total energy mix. In 2022, local renewable generation will increase as a result of the installation of 1,198 solar panels on roofs in 2021 and the further expansion of the heat and cold network (CHP).*

Significant activities took place to reduce emissions, such as the previously mentioned solar panels on roofs and expansion of the heat and cold network (WKO), but also building insulation. These measures all contribute to the further reduction of the university's carbon footprint.

Continuous attention to the timely implementation of property renovation (and thus reduction of natural gas consumption), more sustainable energy generation and other measures (especially in the area of agriculture and air travel) are crucial if we are to minimise CO2 emissions in the next ten years. Ultimately, combating climate change is about the emissions that accumulate in the atmosphere. Logically, these cumulative emissions will be lowest in 2030 if Utrecht University achieves major savings as quickly as possible.

Emissions different categories CO2

*The David de Wied building was connected to the heat and cold network (WKO) in 2021.