Our path to zero carbon

The global race to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is on, but it is a huge challenge.

DCU is committed to being a sustainability leader in how we operate our campuses. We strive to understand the impact of all our activities, and to establish science-based targets and action plans to reduce and mitigate these impacts.

We also recognise our influence as a higher education institution, both on our wider community but also on the future leaders of tomorrow, who are our students today. We must lead the way.

Our carbon footprint

Each of us can help to reduce our organisation’s carbon footprint, whether in our personal choices or our work as students and staff. 

We have undertaken significant work to understand our carbon footprint, helping us to establish science-based targets and action plans to tackle it. 

Discover our 2019 report here carbon footprint report for DCU campuses.  Our 2020/2021 report will be published here shortly.

Reducing our emissions

Along with the global risk to all of us, DCU specifically faces significant operational challenges due to the impact of the climate and biodiversity emergency in both the short, medium and longer terms. We must act accordingly and take action across energy, water, waste and transport. 

Did you know that on average over a quarter  of DCU’s annual carbon footprint comes from staff and student commuting?

Before the pandemic started, some preliminary data from 2019 indicated DCU had effectively reduced its carbon emissions by 4pc, compared with 2018 data*. Without significant increased efforts, however, we can’t expect to sustain this level of reduction. 

We need to make urgent radical changes to how we operate if we are to reach our net zero (or zero carbon) targets.

While that will be challenging, DCU has shown it can implement radical change, not least during the pandemic. We must remember, however, that we’ll need greater and longer-lasting changes to meet the climate and biodiversity emergency.

The table below identifies operational science-based targets based on DCU’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. These targets indicate DCU must achieve a 4.2% annual reduction year on year to be aligned with the 1.5 degree scenario for 2030.

    Total GHG Emmissions 2018 (tCO2e) %of total Science Based Target Reduction per annum (tCO2e)
Scope 1 Natural Gas 5,739 9% 241
  DCU Owned Vehicles 16 0% 1
  Fugitive Emissions 2,266 4% 95
Scope 2 Purchased Electricity 7,174 11% 301
Scope 3 Staff and Student Commuting 12,291 19% 516
  Business Travel 2,284 4% 96
  Academic Travel 2,300 4% 97
  Waste 52 0% 2
  Water 237 0% 10
  Purchased Goods and Services 31,851 50% 1,338
    64,212 100% 2,697