WE have to change! The carbon footprint of ECPR general conferences and ways to reduce it
The political consequences of climate change have been topics at numerous political science conferences. Contrary to the plurality of discussions at these meetings, it is striking that there is no systematic account of the carbon footprint of political science conferences themselves. Applying a GIS-based approach I estimate the travel induced greenhouse gas emissions of the last six ECPR General Conferences (2013–18). The results show that for the five conferences that took part in Europe the average emissions per attendee were between 0.5–1.3 tons CO2-equivalents. At the 2015 conference in Montreal it were even 1.9–3.4 tons. Compared to estimations based on the latest IPCC reports which call for a reduction of per capita emissions to 2.5 tons by 2030 and even 0.7 tons by 2050 in order to keep on track with the 1.5-degree goal, the travel induced GHG-emissions of ECPR conferences are very high. Yet, further estimations demonstrate that significant emission reductions are possible: by choosing more central conference venues, promoting low-emission landbound means of transportation and introducing online participation for researchers from far away, the carbon footprint could be reduced by 75–90 per cent. The article also gives concrete recommendations how the carbon footprint of conferences could be reduced.
KeywordsGreenhouse gas emissions Climate change ECPR general conferences Estimation Carbon footprint
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