28. April 2021

Law & Management becomes carbon neutral

In Law & Management, sustainability is not merely an issue dealt with in lectures; rather, it is directly relevant to us as a provider of executive education, for we do not want your further education to have a positive impact on your life alone, but also on our planet. We therefore tested the carbon footprint of our executive education courses in order to be able to balance it appropriately to begin with and then to systematically reduce it further. We are pleased that the Law & Management division of the University of St.Gallen’s Executive School will provide its executive education courses in a carbon neutral way as from 2021.

As part of the Executive School of the University of St.Gallen, the Law & Management division provides a variety of executive education courses at the interface of law and business administration, both as open and customised programmes. In our lectures, we also address the issue of sustainability, for instance in courses on strategy, compliance and governance. Specific action does not only make new demands on companies (such as CSR, ESG, GRC), but also requires scientific data about climate change. When a customer asked us to provide the in-house programme on offer in a carbon neutral way, this was the trigger for us to check, balance and reduce our CO2 consumption.

A year ago, we launched a project to find out how big our footprint really was. It was clear to us that we did not only want to satisfy minimum standards by merely looking at the operations of our own small team. Rather, we wanted to consider all the work and emission sources which are linked to our executive education courses, i.e. including the energies specifically used for teaching, such as classroom heating and catering, and primarily also the emissions caused by our teachers and course participants, for instance through travelling and overnight accommodation.

This was exciting work, but it was also labour-intensive and painstaking. In the end, we calculated a carbon footprint of 120 tons of CO2 emissions for the calendar year of 2019. Two thirds of this were accounted for by travelling, of which in turn  40% was caused by our participants’ travelling and overnight accommodation.

To reach the target of carbon neutrality quickly, we decided to buy the corresponding amount of emission certificates to ensure that we would be able to balance this footprint with immediate effect. Of course we will continue to test how we can further reduce our footprint systematically. The fact that travelling has the greatest leverage is self-explanatory on the basis of the results but difficult to tackle because we conceive of ourselves as a traditional university with classroom teaching. We would like to thank very much in advance all those who help us achieve a better result!

In future, participants in our courses may have a better conscience when they attend our executive education programmes because we already take into account, and compensate for, our carbon footprint. Incidentally, in 2019 this already concerned almost 300 participants from the German-speaking countries who attended our courses during 24 seminar weeks – in our open programmes alone, i.e. without counting our customised programmes.

About the author
Prof. Dr. Bruno Mascello Academic Director of the Executive School of Management, Technology and Law at the University of St.Gallen, Director of the executive programme for lawyers “Management for the Legal Profession (MLP-HSG)”, attorney at law, lecturer and author dealing with various topics at the intersection of law and management.