The small Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka may contribute only 0.03% to global carbon emission levels yet it has set an ambitious target to become carbon neutral by the year 2050. In a parallel move, the University of Sri Jayewardenepura (USJ), one of the island’s leading national universities, also aims to become carbon neutral.
A “carbon footprint” is the total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released into the atmosphere by the actions of an individual or group. USJ first calculated its carbon footprint for the year 2019, which amounted to 3,838.56 metric tons of CO2. Next, the institute had its carbon emissions audited under ISO 14064-1 (a framework for international GHG accounting and reporting), verifying its carbon footprint according to global standards and becoming the first Sri Lankan university to do so.
“There are institutes that claim to have reduced or neutralized their carbon footprints, but we wanted to do it in a scientific and globally accepted manner, with the final goal of making USJ a true green university,” says Priyan Perera, head of USJ’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Science (DFES).