Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases (GHG). In order, the most abundant greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are:
- Water vapor (H2O)
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)
- Methane (CH4)
- Nitrous oxide (N2O)
- Ozone (O3)
GHG emissions for which UNCG is responsible have held relatively steady since the University began tracking them in FY2008-09. That year, the GHG footprint of the University was 82,096.0 mtCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent), compared to 78,645.6 mtCO2e in FY2013-14 (note: since FY2010-11 the estimate has included air travel emissions, a parameter not captured in the earlier estimates. Removing that source, the profile for FY2013-14 would be 75,879.8 mtCO2e). Consistent with earlier years, in FY2013-14, the majority of UNCG’s emissions emanated from electrical usage (45.9%), the campus steam plant (25.0%), and transportation (21.9%).
This CAP includes an estimate of future emissions based on current consumption, projected enrollment, inflationary forecasts and several other factors. This “business as usual” (BAU) projection excluded legislative mandates such as North Carolina SB668 and Federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard increases, as well as the reported future changes in the fuel sources for Duke Energy. Under these parameters, emissions are estimated to increase to 160,477.1 mtCO2e by 2050. This potential 89% growth in emissions is alarming, particularly in light of the recent revelation that global atmospheric concentration of CO2, the most abundant GHG, has exceeded 400 ppm and the ramifications of climate change are becoming more evident.