How to reduce CO2 emissions on European campuses?
The U-MOB project (lasting five years and funded by the European Union with a total of 1,329,427 Euros) will conduct action plans for sustainable mobility in 30 European campuses, as well as offer three international conferences, the first of which will take place at the Bellaterra Campus in March 2017.
A person who drives 15 kilometres each way and takes four trips a day will release two tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. A total of 1,010 pine trees, the equivalent of a football pitch, is needed to compensate 924 tonnes of CO2 (data provided by Novotec Consultores). European university campuses are places where thousands of people arrive daily in private transport means, generating large amounts of contaminating emissions into the atmosphere. The project aims to foster the use of public transport instead of private vehicles and thus reduce the impact car traffic has on cities.
The UAB, together with Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands), the Cracow University of Technology (Poland), and the University of Bergamo (Italy), as well as the companies Novotec Consultores and Fundación Equipo Humano, are participating in this European project led by Novotec Consultores, a consultancy specialising in mobility issues. The project, entitled U-MOB (European Network for Sustainable Mobility at University), began this year and will last five years, finalising in June 2021.
The objectives are:
- Create and consolidate a "European University Network for Sustainable Mobility” able of exchanging, multiplying, responding to and transferring best practices in sustainable mobility on campus.
- Inform, communicate and raise awareness among the university community on the positive impact of a sustainable management of campus mobility to reduce CO2 emissions.
- Develop and implement action plans for sustainable mobility in 30 European campuses.
- Define and develop an online training session for professionals to become "Sustainable Mobility Managers" at different European campuses.
- Normalise sustainable mobility policies among local public authorities.
Three international conferences on sustainable mobility will take place: the first in Barcelona in March 2017, the second in Cracow in 2019 and the third in Bergamo in 2021. These meetings will be a place of debate, with the aim of establishing and strengthening ties among universities belonging to the network, as well as among local and regional authorities in charge of mobility policies, and companies related to sustainable mobility.
Traffic congestion, 1% GDP in losses
In all of the European Union, the rise in traffic in city centres has led to chronic traffic congestion, with negative consequences in terms of delays and pollution. Each year, almost one billion Euros, or 1% of the EU's GDP, are lost because of this. European towns, cities and campuses are all different, but they are facing similar challenges and this project is one of the measures which will be put into practice to mitigate the effects.
Universities are places to which many people travel by car, whether they be students or university staff members. It is calculated that for every 60 km travelled by car, multiplied by some 200 days the university is open, gives a total of 2,004 kg of CO2 being released into the atmosphere each year. Implementing a series of good practices and promoting other types of means of transport would help reduce emissions in this particular focus of contamination which are university campuses.
The Situation of Spanish Universities
Spanish universities, under CRUE, have been working to achieve some of these objectives in the past years thanks to a recently created sustainability committee, coordinated by the UAB and the University of Grenada and made up of 12 universities. A space for good practices has been created and some of the most remarkable projects are the car sharing programme at the universities of Cordova, Extremadura and Girona; the speed bumps installed at the University of the Balearic Islands; and the reserved parking spaces at the University of Oviedo.
Leaders in Environmental Criteria
The UAB ranks 20th in the GreenMetric Ranking of World Universities, published annually by the University of Indonesia. It is the first university in Spain to figure in the ranking. The ranking compares 407 universities worldwide and classifies their policies on sustainability and respect for the environment. Among other things, the ranking takes into account aspects such as facilities, the use of water and transport. The UAB, which in two years has moved from position 127 to 20 in the ranking, came in first in the sectors of waste and energy management and climate change. The UAB is one of the few European universities to include a mobility unit, which is in charge of studying, analysing and improving all aspects related to mobility.
A European Union LIFE Project
This European project is funded by the LIFE project, the support organism for the conservation of nature and climate and environmental action projects conducted throughout the European Union. Since 1992, LIFE has co-funded a total of 4,000 projects. For the 2014-2020 programme period, LIFE will contribute some 3,400,000,000 Euros to environmental and climate protection projects.
U-MOB PROJECT LIFE: http://u-mob.eu/u-mob-life-project/