How to decarbonise conference travel after COVID-19
22 July 2020
Writing in Nature, Milan Klöwer, Debbie Hopkins, Myles Allen and James Higham analyse how a variety of measures could decarbonise conference travel in a post pandemic world. Many academics are part of a hypermobile lifestyle, travelling to conferences, to conduct fieldwork, to visit collaborators and to give seminars and lectures.
The authors specifically looked at the Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held in San Francisco in December 2019. They calculate that the 28,000 delegates traveled 285 million kilometres there and back, generating the equivalent of approximately 80,000 tonnes of CO2 - roughly 3 tonnes per delegate or the average weekly emissions of Edinburgh.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that while many conference have been cancelled, others have been held virtually and have resulted in higher than normal participation. While face to face interaction will remain important, there are actions that can be taken that could reduce conference travel emissions by up to 90%.