GHG Emissions

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are the root cause of anthropogenic climate change. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most common greenhouse gas. Other GHGs include Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and other gases that trap heat and cause warming. Different GHGs have different potencies for trapping heat in the atmosphere, so GHGs are quantified as Carbon Dioxide equivalents (CO2e), as shown in the graph below.

Western is committed to reducing our emissions in line with the International Paris Accords of 2016, and Ontario's provincial goals, in an effort to prevent global temperature increase of 1.5ºC. Specifically, our goals are: 

  • By 2030 - reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45%, relative to 2005 levels
  • By 2050 - achieve net-zero emissions for campus operations

Western has been continuously growing for many years to provide a world class learning and working environment for the campus community. In spite of its growth, Western's emissions have reduced since 2005. Due to our carbon reduction efforts, we have reduced emissions per square foot. Looking to the future, we plan to not only reduce our emissions per square foot, but also to reduce our overall Adjusted Scope 1 emissions. Significant gains in Scope 2 emissions are related to the phase-out of coal in Ontario's electrical grid.

 Graph of Western's scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from 2005-2021

Note: Adjusted Scope 1 Emissions refer to GHG emissions directly related to fuel combustion for Western operations. Notably excluded are emissions attributed to steam consumption at London Health Science Centre's University Hospital (UH).


Adjusted Emissions Scope 1

Scope 2 Emissions

Total (CO2e)

2005 37,609 27,600 65,209
2006 37,516 25,182 62,698
2007 39,399 28,977 68,376
2008 42,454 26,815 69,269
2009 44,521 16,157 60,678
2010 45,651 21,930 67,581
2011 45,690 15,429 61,119
2012 43,293 15,442 58,734
2013 42,314 11,298 53,612
2014 40,829 6,658 47,487
2015 46,070 7,197 53,267
2016 43,960 6,418 50,378
2017 43,589 3,023 46,612
2018 46,267 4,662 50,929
2019 45,461 4,419 49,880
2020 41,225 3,754 44,979
2021 39,960 7,022 46,981
2022 43,486 6,686 50,172

Direct GHGs are known as Scope 1 emissions. These encompass all emissions directly generated from the combustion of fuel on-site, including Western-owned vehicles and on-site combustion of fossil fuels for heating, humidification, and back-up power generation. Western has its own steam power plant on campus which accounts for the majority of our Scope 1 emissions. Scope 2 emissions include any emissions attributed to electricity imported to campus from the electrical grid. In Ontario, the carbon intensity of grid electricity is dynamic. Low-carbon nuclear power is the primary generation source and the balance of power is generated by a mix of renewables and natural gas. There is also a third category of emissions known as Scope 3, which includes all other indirect emissions associated with the university. 

Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain.

Graphic source: