EGU23-12106, updated on 26 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Taking Stock of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Geosciences: an Example from GFZ Potsdam 

Christoph Sens-Schönfelder, Friedhelm von Blanckenburg, and Knut Kaiser
Christoph Sens-Schönfelder et al.
  • GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany (

The basis of all serious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is an inventory of the emissions caused by the various activities of an organisation. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol provides the guideline for establishing such an inventory. The German Research Centre of Geosciences GFZ Potsdam used these guidelines to estimate its greenhouse gas emissions for 2019. Besides the estimation of quantities (e.g. travel distances or hotel nights) which is an administrative challenge, the specific emissions per unit of quantity -- the Global Warming Potential -- play a crucial role. Unequivocal accounting of emissions from construction work is another task of great complexity.  A compilation and standardisation of these values within the research community would greatly simplify the compilation of GHG inventories and help to improve their comparability. Controversy inevitably will arise regarding the design of mitigating measures, like purchase of electricity and heat from renewable sources (which generates extra costs) the compensation of emissions (of which the effectiveness is contested), and even to shifting scientific activities away from those with high greenhouse gas footprints (which may conflict with scientific needs). Building awareness for emissions caused by academic activities and careful communication of mitigation options comprise the first necessary steps en route to low (or net-zero)-emission science.

How to cite: Sens-Schönfelder, C., von Blanckenburg, F., and Kaiser, K.: Taking Stock of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Geosciences: an Example from GFZ Potsdam , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12106,, 2023.