A path to net-zero carbon emissions at the W. M. Keck Observatory
Author: Kevin L. McCann, Craig Nance, Gavin Sebastian & Josh Walawender
With the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sixth assessment report1, the crisis of climate change is irrefutable and the critical need for action to address it has gained broad support throughout the global community. The United Nations Secretary General’s assessment of the November 2021 COP26 commitments was that they represent “an important step but not enough”. It appears they are insufficient to meet the climate action targets of the Paris Accord without enhanced ambition. In this Comment we describe the approach used to measure the carbon footprint of the W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO) in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and how this has informed articulating an enhanced ambition to reduce the Observatory’s carbon footprint in the decade ahead. The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard4 provides standards and guidance for organizations preparing a GHG emissions inventory. It covers the accounting and reporting of the six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol. A key element of the GHG accounting protocol is the concept of scope. Scopes are used to account for direct and indirect emissions and to avoid double counting across organizations. They can also provide insights to inform mitigation strategies for maximum impact.