Estimating the global warming emissions of the LCAXVII conference: connecting flights matter
Conferences are an important element of scientific activity but can also be a major cause of environmental burden. With this in mind, we analysed the global warming emissions of the 2017 annual conference of the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA), in order to estimate the carbon footprint and identify potential ways to reduce it.
We used survey data from participants as well as literature sources to complete an attributional assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions per participant. A method to calculate the ‘ideal’ location is proposed, which can be used to identify ‘unreasonably’ distant conference locations.
Results and discussion
The average emissions per participant were found to be 952 kg CO2eq, but with a large variability due to differences in travelled distance. Connecting flights were found to increase emissions up to 32% compared to direct flights, due to the increased number of take-offs and landings.
Results indicate that future studies should use distance-dependent flight emissions to increase the accuracy of the assessment. Some measures, such as meat-free menus, had a relatively minor contribution to emission reductions, but could be important as scientists advocating for the reduction of environmental burden should lead by example.
KeywordsConference footprint Global warming Travel footprint
The authors thank the ACLCA board, Debbie Steckel and Prof. Ben Amor for giving us the opportunity to participate in the conference and conduct the survey. The authors also thank Joris Deschamps, Marianne Pedinotti-Castelle and Mohammad Davoud Heidari for their participation in an earlier version of the footprinting of the conference. Finally, we thank Brian Cox and co-authors for providing an early version of their results.
- Blanco G, Gerlagh S, Suh S, Barrett J, de Coninck HC, Diaz Morejon CF, Mathur R, Nkicenovic N, Ofosu Ahenkora A, Pan J, Pathak H, Rice J, Richels R, Smith SJ, Stern DI, Toth FL, Zhou P (2014) Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change: contribution of working group III to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. In: Edenhofer O, Pichs-Madruga R, Sokona Y, Farahani E, Kadner K, Seyboth A, Adler A, Baum I, Brunner S, Eickemeier P, Kriemann B, Savolainen J, Schomer S, Von Stechov C, Zwikel T, Minx JC (eds) Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- De Grosbois D, and Fennell D (2011) Carbon Footprint of the Global Hotel Companies: Comparison of Methodologies and Results. Tour Recreat Res 36(3):231–245Google Scholar
- EPA (2017) Green meetings. https://www.epa.gov/p2/green-meetings. Accessed 22 Apr 2018Google Scholar
- Geopy (2015) GeoPy. https://geopy.readthedocs.io/en/1.10.0/# (accessed 10th December 2017)Google Scholar
- Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Huijbregts M, et al (2009) ReCiPe 2008. https://www.leidenuniv.nl/cml/ssp/publications/recipe_characterisation.pdf. Accessed 22 Dec 2017
- Google Maps (2017) Distance and duration for multiple destinations and transport modes. https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/distance-matrix/. (accessed 10th December 2017)Google Scholar
- Hager TJ, and Morawicki R (2013) Energy consumption during cooking in the residential sector of developed nations: A review. Food Policy 40:54–63Google Scholar
- Tsai K-T, Lin T-P, Hwang R-L, and Huang Y-J (2014) Carbon dioxide emissions generated by energy consumption of hotels and homestay facilities in Taiwan. Tour Manage 42:13–21Google Scholar