UQ research contributes to international guidelines on climate change

The International Panel on Climate Change has used University of Queensland research to update its National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Guideline for the first time in 13 years.

Researchers from UQ’s Advanced Water Management Centre (AWMC), have spent a decade gathering data on greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater systems, and their research has now led to IPCC guidelines on the topic being significantly updated.

AWMC research influenced updates to the guidelines for three greenhouse gas emissions in the wastewater sector – nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide.

As AWMC Director, Professor Zhiguo Yuan explained, wastewater handling could contribute extensively to greenhouse gas emissions from utility operations. 

Professor Yuan said: “In the original guidelines, IPCC had no recommendations for methane emission from sewer systems due to lack of information. Evidence is emerging that the methane formed in sewers is not insignificant.

“Our new research will help quantify the emissions and can provide a benchmark for calculation instead of just raising awareness.”

AWMC’s research also shows that wastewater contains an appreciable amount of fossil carbon, thought to be derived from petroleum-based products such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food additives and other commercial and domestic sources. These fossil carbons then contribute to carbon dioxide being produced in the water treatment process.

The University of Queensland will be one of fifteen Australian and New Zealand Universities available to talk to students at the Study Options Open Days this month. Register now to attend the events in either Manchester or London.

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