PUCRS has neutralized over 160 thousand tons of carbon with Pró-Mata

Display on Mauá Avenue illustrates part of the positive impact generated by the biggest Private Reserve in Rio Grande do Sul, maintained by the University for the past 30 years

10/04/2023 - 13h30

Photo: Gabriel Sacchi

Sustainable actions intended to attempt to slow down global warming and climate change have been discussed by companies, global leaders, countries and universities. The carbon offset, a practice which consists in reducing or removing carbon dioxide emissions from an organization — as well as the generation of credits for those who produce smaller amounts — is one of the possible environmental policies for institutions which commit to minimizing negative impact caused by their existence and operation.

This has been a concern of PUCRS’s since 1993, and, with the Center for Research and Conservation of Nature (Pró-Mata), to date, it has already neutralized over 160 thousand tons of carbon. Recently, the University has inaugurated, on Mauá Avenue, in Porto Alegre, a display on a wall which marks in real-time the CO2 neutralization made by Pró-Mata.

The environmental preservation area in the University located in São Francisco de Paula includes over 3 thousand acres of preserved land and is internationally recognized as one of the 25 hotspots of world biodiversity. In addition, it is also considered the largest Private Natural Heritage Reserve (RPPN) in Rio Grande do Sul. Acquired in 1993 and protected since then with a lot of dedication, this year Pró-Mata completes 30 consecutive years accumulating plant biomass in a protected area.

“PUCRS, with its institutional importance, can and should lead society through paths which lead to better environmental quality in a broad sense and bring dignity to human life, always in perfect integration with biological diversity and with natural landscapes,” states Nelson Fontoura, director of PUCRS’s Institute for the Environment (IMA).

In addition to Pró-Mata’s operations, PUCRS leads a number of other global structures, researches and initiatives which seek to lessen the climate crisis and to potentialize the use of renewable energy. The University is aligned with the UN’s goals for 2023, which consist in a set of programs, actions and guidelines that lead the countries’ sustainable practices.

Learn the concepts of the topic

Not everyone is familiar with the concepts regarding the climate agenda. To make it easier to understand, we explain a few phrases that are commonly used by specialists in the area. Take a look!

Global warming

Generally speaking, global warming is defined by the increase in ocean temperatures. The high rate in which current societies develop ends up being responsible for this increase, considering there are high levels fossil fuels burning to produce energy. In addition, human activity also plays a role in producing greenhouse gas (GHG).

Climate change

These are long-term changes in climate parameters. And these changes have natural causes, such as incidence, orbiting, La Niña and El Niño, and volcanic activity, for example. They may also have anthropogenic causes (caused by human activities), such as fossil fuels burning, deforestation, emission of polluting gases, soil pollution and water resources.

Carbon offset

In general terms, almost any product, service, or activity emits a certain amount of carbon dioxide. When it is not possible to reduce or avoid, it is possible to resort to the process of carbon offset. A carbon offset is the reduction or removal of emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made to compensate the emission made in other places.

Plant biomass

Plant biomass is an important source of clean energy, which captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, creating long chains of carbohydrates such as cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and other molecules which make up the wall of the plant cell.

Biodiversity hotspot

These are spaces with a great diversity and richness of species which are either endangered or are currently going through a process of deterioration.

Learn about other initiatives

Center for Research and Conservation of Nature (Pró-Mata) / Photo: Release/PUCRS

Ever since it was founded, the University is concerned with creating development and social impact. Currently, PUCRS has projects and researches which include 16 of the 17 of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Since 2022, the University features the Inequalities, Poverty and Labor Market Laboratory (PUCRS Data Social). The structure, coordinated by researchers from the School of Humanities and the Business School, is dedicated to developing studies and reports based on official public data. In addition, the University carries out actions to eradicate hunger and food waste, which is an issue that is related to poverty and food insecurity.

PUCRS also has projects and opportunities directed at gender equality, such as the Women in Science project, as well as exclusive career advice for women in the labor market. In response to social inequality, it features scholarship programs to facilitate access to education for those who need it the most, in addition to donating study material.

Regarding healthcare, PUCRS carries out several researches to impact the current and future population’s health and wellbeing, like developing and testing vaccines, as well as the pioneering use of a radiopharmaceutical capable of helping with diagnosing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. Another highlight is the operation of people who make up the university community, like students, teachers and researchers who are awarded and acknowledged in different rankings and publications all around the world.

Commitment to waste management

PUCRS is one of the only Higher Education institutions in Rio Grande do Sul with an operating license for waste management. The license is provided by environmental agencies and states that all waste created by the University must be treated.

To carry out this operation, the Solid Waste Management Program (PGRS) guides and regulates the different processes for the treatment of each waste that is produced, ensuring its correct disposal and appropriate final destination to minimize environmental impact caused by waste. In order to reinforce the caring and commitment attitude towards the environment, the institution constantly promotes the Selective Disposal, a collective attitude campaign.

Because of these actions, since 2018, the University has already recycled over 500 tons of waste, being 7 tons of plastic, 156 tons of paper and 17 tons of glass, in addition to 320 tons of iron and aluminum. Giordano Toldo

“These numbers represent an expressive quantity of petroleum that is not extracted from nature and almost 5 thousand trees that are spared. Everything PUCRS has been doing for the environment, as well as the revitalization of Ipiranga Avenue, has been aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Developmental Goals,” emphasizes the University’s president, Br. Evilázio Teixeira.

Environment, innovation and entrepreneurship

Environmental conservation is one of the great concerns of the world today. PUCRS integrates projects to promote more sustainable cities, in addition to being the first University from the South of Brazil to offer the in-person Renewable Energy Engineering undergraduate course. The institution also features projects and researches aimed at better understanding means to preserve marine and land life.

In addition to understanding the environment, it is necessary to understand how to create products which cause less impact on our planet. In that sense, through external partnerships, the University has sought to enforce sustainable production and consumption patterns. Being a University which invests in innovation and entrepreneurship, PUCRS also supports the promotion of an inclusive and sustainable economic growth, in which dignified work opportunities are a possibility for all.

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