An Assessment of Whether a Carbon Neutral Initiative Can Successfully Be implemented at Victoria University of Wellington
The scientific evidence is now in no doubt - anthropogenic climate change has created a severe global problem and demands an urgent global response. The origin of anthropogenic climate change lies in the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). Avoiding serious climate change will require reductions in GHG emissions from all sources. Universities can demonstrate leadership in this area by not only conducting research and teaching about climate change, but also by going further and starting to manage and mitigate their own impact on the climate. This thesis assesses whether Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) can become carbon neutral and therefore have no net impact on climate change. Applying a corporate social responsibility model, the interface between the universities as teaching and research institutes and agents of change is investigated. This way, the opportunities, benefits and barriers in place for the university to become carbon neutral are identified and a framework to implement this initiative is developed. The research found several potential short-term and enlightened self-interest benefits available to VUW in becoming carbon neutral. Despite this, many barriers will need to be overcome to achieve neutrality. The main obstacle is gaining a firm commitment from the University Council and senior management. If this commitment is achieved, then VUW is in a strong position to demonstrate leadership both at the level of the local Wellington community and nationally.