At Exeter College we are tracking our Scope 1 and 2 emissions and taking steps to reduce them. Thanks to the efforts of students, staff and Fellows substantial reductions have been made and we are working hard to make further cuts. The complex process of calculating the College’s Scope 3 emissions is also under way. For information about what we mean by Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions click here. We will announce our target for achieving net zero carbon once we have a clear idea of the scale of that undertaking and a detailed plan for achieving it.
Scope 1 emissions
Exeter College has reduced gas consumption by 18.53% since 2019, with year-on-year reductions above 9% in both 2022 and 2023. As visible in the graph below the College’s gas consumption was 367,114 m3 in 2019. In 2021 this slightly fell to 363,688m3 and in 2022 gas use was reduced substantially to 335,055m3. In 2023 College gas use fell under the 300,000m3 mark.
Thus, the College’s scope 1 emissions from gas fell from 755.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2019 to 748tonnes in 2021 and 679.5 in 2022. This is based on a calculation of our emissions using the government’s conversion factors (Greenhouse gas reporting: conversion factors 2022) and our meter readings and estimates where required.
The College owns a 2.4 litre diesel van which we have estimated produces annual emissions of 1 tonne of CO2e based on between 1,469 and 1,756 miles driven per year (rounded up from 0.55 tonnes based on the DriveSmart online van carbon footprint calculator).
Scope 2 emissions
Exeter College has reduced electricity consumption substantially since 2019 with a year-on-year drop by 5.28% in 2023. As the graph below shows, electricity consumption was 1,564,468 kWh in 2022 and dropped down to 1,482,231 in 2023.
By using electricity generated from renewable sources the College avoided the production of 366 tonnes of CO2e in 2021 (Government greenhouse gas conversion factors for company reporting, Defra, June 2020) and 302.5 tonnes of CO2e in 2022. This is again based on a calculation of our emissions using the government’s conversion factors (Greenhouse gas reporting: conversion factors 2022) and our meter readings and estimates where required.
Scope 3 emission
In 2022, Exeter College used approximately 21,351 m3 of mains water.
In 2021, Exeter College used 20,518m3 of mains water, which created 22 tonnes of CO2e (Government greenhouse gas conversion factors for company reporting, Defra, June 2020).
Student travel – students resident in the UK
In 2021, the majority of our taught students attended College in Trinity and Michaelmas terms, but not Hilary term (due to Covid-19 restrictions). Similarly, the majority of research students chose to stay in Oxford throughout the year. We have assumed that UK students travelled to Oxford by car, with a family member or friend dropping them in Oxford and then making the return trip home. We have therefore assumed that UK students on undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses required four return trips in 2021 (one at the start and one at the end of each term they spent in Oxford) and postgraduate research students made two return trips. For our calculations we included 100% of CO2e emissions for postgraduate students, rather than dividing their emissions equally between their University department and the College. For the purposes of estimating the CO2e emissions we assumed that the average return journey was 400 miles, equivalent to driving from Lancaster to Oxford and back. This equates to 174 tonnes of CO2e from our UK students travelling to and from Oxford (University of Oxford Carbon Accounting Tool 2020).
Student travel – students resident overseas
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the majority of our international students on undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses made two return flights from their home country in 2021 and the majority of postgraduate students taking research degrees made one return flight from their country of origin. For our calculations we included 100% of CO2e emissions for postgraduate students, rather than dividing their emissions equally between their University department and the College. For the purposes of estimating CO2e emissions we assumed each student flew from the capital city of their country of residence to London and vice versa for return trips. This equates to 872 tonnes of CO2e from our international students travelling to and from the UK (University of Oxford Carbon Accounting Tool 2020).
The food-based carbon footprint is calculated by broad approximation and more detailed analysis in our upstream supply chain will be carried out in due course. The calculation uses the College’s 2021 catering operations and is based on the equivalent of circa 19,200 day consumers at 5.2Kg/CO2e per day (source: Food in a warming world: the changing foods on the British Plate, WWF, 2018; broadly in line with data from “Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK” by Scarborough P. et al., Nuffield Department of Population Health, Oxford, 2014). This equates to 100 tonnes of CO2e from food in 2021.
Exeter owns and manages responsibly approximately 12 hectares of woodland and six hectares of grassland including a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). Together these absorbed approximately 74 tonnes of CO2e in 2021 (University of Oxford Carbon Accounting Tool 2020).
Exeter College emissions in 2022
Scope 1 emissions were 680.5t CO2e, scope 1 emissions removals from our grass- and woodland were 74.7t CO2e and estimated scope 3 emissions were 1390.6t CO2e.