Shrinking the carbon footprint of research

A new commentary in Lancet Planetary Health this week highlights our #flyingless petition (which you can support here) and encourages research funders to support feasible steps to “substantially and rapidly decarbonise academia.”

Teun Bousema, Leonard Burtscher, Ronald P van Rij, Didier Barret, and Kate Whitfield analyzed selected research activities of the European Research Council (ERC), the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), and other organizations, noting ways that aviation emissions could be reduced while preserving the effectiveness of these important research endeavors.

Travel associated with EDCTP and ERC-StG review meetings in 2019 (Lancet Planetary Health)

The authors point out how lessons learned during the pandemic may be carried forward: “Research funders are in a unique position to incentivise and enforce sustainable research practices that are in line with IPCC recommendations. Given the success of virtual meetings during the pandemic, reverting to old practices can only be interpreted as an active decision to ignore international climate action recommendations.”

Updated travel petition

The Travel Petition has one element for each of four target audiences: (1) universities and research institutions, (2) academic associations, (3) funders, and (4) individual members of academic communities (including students, staff, and faculty).

In a time of climate emergency, universities and research communities can sharply reduce flying while preserving the good we do in the world. Details are provided in our new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) tab. Internationally, the Time to Explane initiative has a helpful toolkit and organizing resources for your own institution.

For your entertainment, and for easy social media sharing, our new video resources include the humorous anthropological adventures of Sir Professor Doctor Geoffrey Mosquito among the scientists. Also, from our own continuing experiment in a non-flying academic life, we offer the mock travel/tourism show, Lifestyles of the NOT Jet Set. Please distribute widely.