Frequently Asked Questions

What will my contribution be used for ?

At the end of the participatory process, the comments and proposals collected on the platform will be synthesized and submitted to the working groups that will evaluate their possible integration into the Campus Climate Plan.

In addition, the results of the participatory process will be presented to the entire community at the beginning of December.

What is EPFL’s CO2 balance?

Meeting the climate targets set by the Swiss Confederation is an ambitious challenge for EPFL. Indeed, reducing the level of its 2006 emissions by 50% by 2030 represents for EPFL a reduction of about 2/3 of its current emissions. The figure below illustrates the carbon balance of EPFL from 2006 to 2018, as well as the future scenario.
Note that the EPFL balance sheet includes the 3 levels (scopes) of greenhouse gas emissions of the GHG Protocol. In particular, it includes scope 3, which includes commuting and professional mobility as well as food, which are often absent from the universities’ climate objectives.

Greenhouse gas emissions balance sheet of the EPFL from 2006 to 2018 and prospection of the 2030 balance sheet (Quantis)

Why are none of the proposed measures related to education or research?

Faced with the climate urgency, the EPFL Direction set up a Task Force in November 2019 to establish an ambitious Climate & Sustainability Plan with the aim of positioning EPFL to face the climate crisis in a relevant and exemplary manner. EPFL Sustainability Unit is in charge of the Campusn part or Campus Climate Plan, i.e. the definition of measures that concern operational aspects : Food, Pendular Mobility (commuting), Professional Mobility, Buildings, Energy, Partnerships, Purchasing, Green Labs and Well-being & community.

The other sections (Education, Research, Innovation and Digital impact) will be put out for consultation in 2021 via the School Assembly.

Why is the reference year 2006 and not 1990?

A distinction must be made between objectives set at the Swiss level and those specific to the federal administration.

At the level of the federal administration

In July 2019, the Federal Council decided to step up measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Federal Administration in order to further fulfil its exemplary role. It set two objectives for the Federal Administration, including EPFL :

  1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland by 50% by 2030 compared to 2006.
  2. Offset the remaining emissions with emission reduction certificates in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

At the level of Switzerland

By ratifying the Paris Agreement, Switzerland committed itself to halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

In this case, climate neutrality is set for 2050.

Why are greenhouse gas emissions considered in absolute terms?

The objective of the Paris Agreement can only be achieved if all those responsible agree to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions within their sphere of influence to the absolute minimum (Swiss climate policy. Implementation of the Paris Agreement. Federal Office for the Environment, 2018).

An emissions target in relation to a base year is intended to limit absolute emissions rather than emissions intensity. From a transparency point of view, with a base-year intensity target, it may be difficult to determine whether a reduction in emissions intensity results in an increase or decrease in absolute GHG emissions, and to what extent, since the level of the result is not fixed and will vary (Standard on Mitigation Targets, Greenhouse gas protocol and World resource institute, 2016).

Why have the CO2 emissions of certain themes not been evaluated?

Because of the lack of reliable or sufficiently accurate data available.

Furthermore, some measures are not and will never be quantifiable. However, this does not mean that they are not important for the implementation of the Climate Plan and the achievement of the objectives.

What do the coloured bands used on the communication campaign materials mean?

These colour bands, or climate stripes, represent the changes in temperature since 1850. Each colour strip reflects the temperature in a certain country averaged over one year. For most countries, the bands start in 1850 and end in 2018. This representation was imagined by climate scientist Ed Hawkins to make it easier for the general public to visualise climate change.

The colours change from blue more than a hundred years ago to red in recent years. For the majority of countries, the data comes from the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset.

These graphical representations are available for each country on the page: https://showyourstripes.info/.

We have chosen to use the “climate stripes” for the communication around the participatory approach OUR CLIMATE Your Campus because they provide an affordable representation of global warming.

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading), https://showyourstripes.info/