The carbon footprint of a knowledge organization and emission scenarios for a post-COVID-19 world

Sami El Geneidy, Stefan Baumeister*, Valentino Marini Govigli, Timokleia Orfanidou, Venla Wallius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
172 Downloads (Pure)


The looming climate crisis requires an immediate response, in which organizations, as major contributors, should play a central role. However, these organizations need appropriate tools to measure and mitigate their climate impacts. One commonly applied method is carbon footprint analysis. Carbon footprint analyses have been conducted for various types of organizations, but knowledge organizations, such as universities and research institutes, have received far less attention, because their carbon footprint is often less visible and can be easily underestimated. This study is based on the carbon footprint analysis of one multinational knowledge organization. This analysis then helped identify the major sources of climate impacts in other such knowledge organizations. These are mainly indirect emissions (Scope 3) and to a large extent (79%) travel-related emissions. Based on these findings, three scenarios for a post-COVID-19 world were developed and analyzed. The results from the first two scenarios showed that despite a reduction in business travel and employees working from home, Scope 3 and travel-related emissions would remain the largest contributor. Only in the unlikely case of the third, non-recovery scenario did the share of travel-related emissions drop, turning heating into the largest contributor. In addition to measuring the carbon footprint, the study discusses potential mitigation strategies knowledge organizations could apply to reduce their carbon footprint. The focus is on how to avoid and reduce emissions, but new forms of carbon offsetting are also addressed. Based on the findings, a mitigation policy framework and recommendations for further research are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106645
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Early online date29 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Carbon footprint
  • Carbon offsetting
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Indirect emissions
  • Knowledge organization
  • Mitigation
  • Travel


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