The University of Iceland was among 103 institutes and companies in Iceland that signed a declaration in November 2015, vowing to take action on climate issues. The agreement stipulates that all parties must set goals followed up by steps to reduce greenhouse gases and waste. The initiative was launched by the City of Reykjavík and Festa, the Icelandic Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility.
A group of Master's students in Environment and Natural Resources in collaboration with University staff wrote a report on University operations in terms of emission of green gases and negative environmental impact. On 17 June, Iceland's National Day, the group submitted their report, University of Iceland Gas Inventory 2015 & Emissions Reduction Strategy 2016 to 2030. The enquiry shows that 91% of greenhouse gas emissions for University operations result from the transportation sector, both on land and in the air, but particularly from private cars.
In light of this, the University of Iceland has set the goal to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 33% - 46% based on Business As Usual (BAU) by 2030. To achieve this overall goal in emission reduction, the University will work towards the following short- and long-term strategies:
1. Short-term strategies:
a. To increase the number of pedestrians and cyclists living in a 1-5 km radius from the University by:
- improving facilities for cyclists (increasing the number of bicycle racks, building bicycle sheds, installing repair facilities, improving snow clearing and better connecting the campus to the municipal cycling system).
- encouraging staff to make a transport agreement (in place since 2013)
b. Increase the use of environmentally friendly cars by:
- choosing car rentals / taxi stations that offer environmentally friendly options.
c. Consider carbon offsetting for employees' air travel (international and domestic) through
- collaboration with Kolviður Fund to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2).
d. Reduce the use of disposable packaging and plastic containers by:
- enabling students and staff to choose reusable tableware and containers.
e. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to paper use by:
- encouraging digital distribution of data in central administration and of promotional material.
- trading with companies that use carbon offset processes.
f. To reduce waste and increase recycling by:
- ensuring easy access to recycling centres around campus; both in buildings and outside.
- increasing education and awareness on consumption and its consequences.
2. Long-term strategies:
a. Increase the use of environmentally friendly cars by:
- increasing the number of paid parking spaces for cars that run on fossil fuel but offer free parking spaces for other cars.
- investing gradually in electric vehicles owned by the University.
- endeavouring to install electric charge stations around University campus in collaboration with the City of Reykjavík and OR, Reykjavík Energy.
- using electric construction equipment as much as possible on campus.
b. Reduce the use of disposable packaging and plastic containers by:
- making it possible for students and staff to choose reusable tableware and containers.
- increasing collaboration with Icelandic Student Services, The Environment Agency of Iceland, and the Public Health Authorities to reduce the magnitude of disposable packaging.
c. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to paper use by:
- introducing paperless operations as far as possible.
The University of Iceland will take inventory of its emissions annually and perform communication surveys biannually to monitor development and ensure results.