Introduction to Carbon Emissions

– types of carbon emissions and university sources of carbon emissions


The terms ‘carbon emissions’ and ‘carbon footprints’ are regularly used today – from company environmental reports to the front of crisp packets. But understanding what these terms actually mean and relate to can be confusing.

To help clear this up, this page includes all we think you need to know about how carbon emissions are defined and the sources they come from here at the university.

Direct and indirect emissions

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be generated either directly or indirectly as a result of the operations and activities of the university. These are defined as follows:

Direct GHG emissions are emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the university.

Indirect GHG emissions are emissions that are a consequence of the activities of the university, but occur at sources owned or controlled by another entity.

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions

Greenhouse gases (GHG) are also commonly split into three different groups:

  • Scope 1 = All direct greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions.

For the university this includes emissions from gas, oil and LPG burned by university boilers to heat our buildings and the emissions from the petrol and diesel used by vehicles owned by the university (including tractors, catering vans and the VC’s car!)

  • Scope 2 = Indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.

The university does not import heat or steam so all our scope 2 emissions are from electricity used on our campuses, used for lighting, air conditioning, ICT etc.

  • Scope 3 = All other indirect emissions

This is the largest group of emissions. For the university this includes emissions from the waste we produce, the water we use, the services and stuff we procure, staff and student commuting, staff business travel, student field trips and student travel between their out-of-term home and the university.


The university uses these definitions to calculate its carbon emissions. Find out more about our carbon emissions via the links below: