Goal: Aggressively pursue carbon neutrality in 2024 and beyond through a combination of direct emissions reduction strategies and carbon offsets.
Duke University’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past two years have lessened dramatically and were nearly 50% lower in fiscal year 2021 than they were in 2007. Overall emission reductions have come through a combination of the discontinuation of the use of coal on campus, increases in building and utility plant efficiency, and travel reduction. The major factor in this reduction over the past two years has been the increase in the number of employees working remotely along with the very limited use of air travel for conferences and research.
As Duke nears its 2024 carbon neutrality commitment, it is estimated it will achieve net zero by reducing emissions on-campus a total of 75% compared to a 2007 baseline and will cover the remainder by investing in high-quality carbon offsets. Duke University expects to be the first school among its Ivy+ peers network to reach carbon neutrality and will serve as a leader for this network as other universities near their goals.
The Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative (DCOI) has been working to develop a clear offset purchase strategy and evaluation tool in preparation for meeting the campus 2024 carbon neutrality goal. DCOI established an Offset Advisory committee, comprised of staff, faculty and alumni to aid in these efforts. DCOI is seeking to create a diverse portfolio of offset credits through internal project development and purchases. This year, DCOI supported an avoided conversion project in Guinea-Bissau, which protected park land while also enhancing research on blue carbon through mangrove forests.
DCOI also continues to engage students in research and develop innovative offset projects. As the client for a student masters project in the Nicholas School, DCOI studied the viability of developing a forestry project in Madagascar, in partnership with the Duke Lemur Center. DCOI also continued leading a Bass Connections class entitled "Regenerative Grazing to Mitigate Climate Change", where the team is working to create policy recommendations for the state of North Carolina.
To learn more about the DCOI’s recent work, please view the 2021 annual report.