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Driving Towards Net-Zero: The University of Sharjah's progress and action plan

In alignment with the key priorities of the COP28 summit and the global community efforts to address climate change, the University of Sharjah (UOS) joined the Race to Zero campaign and pledged to reach (net) zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

To progress towards the net-zero target, the Sustainability Office formed a team of experts in setting and infrastructure, energy and climate change, waste treatment, water conservation and recycling, and sustainable transport to conduct a comprehensive carbon footprint assessment. The team selected the academic year 2021/2022 as a baseline year. The primary source emissions from Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 were identified. In Scope 1, the team considered the university vehicles owned by UOS (73.9 tons CO2) and the power backup diesel generators (30.6 tons CO2).

To reduce these emissions, the team suggested promoting sustainable transport options by adopting zero-emission vehicles (electric vehicles using solar PV charging stations) and optimizing the operation time of the backup generators. Emissions of greenhouse gases that fall under Scope 2 are caused by the purchase of electricity (48438 tons CO2). Energy conservation (reducing use and waste of energy), the use of more energy-efficient systems (for HVAC, lighting, and equipment), and a switch to low-carbon electricity sources (solar PV) were proposed as means of bringing down these emissions to help the UOS access to green electricity, optimize the operational efficiency, and commitment to sustainability.

Regarding Scope 3, we considered the stationery purchased (21.4 tons CO2), the employees and students commuting (1358 tons CO2), and the waste generated (3305 tons CO2). These emissions in the upstream and downstream can be improved by transitioning to a paperless campus, adopting various digitization strategies and policies, converting the commuting fleet to Zero-Emission Vehicles, and reducing the amount of organic waste disposed of in landfills.

Universities have a well-known role in driving change, graduating future leaders, and illuminating the path for others to follow. Collaboration between universities and industries, policymakers, and local communities can help achieve the net-zero target by adopting a holistic approach to sustainability. 

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