Flying Less Policy

“Researchers are the source of the increasing number of warnings about the state of our climate and biodiversity, and their credibility would be damaged by not setting an example”1

Flying is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in academia. Flying represents about 3% of global greenhouse emissions, but it is growing quickly and most of these emissions are generated by a very small fraction of the world population that includes academics. Given the current climate emergency, we – the faculty members of the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment (GPE) at Concordia University – have implemented a flying less policy to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Inspired by a growing number of similar initiatives around the world2, this policy is based on the personal commitment of each member of the department to make serious and significant efforts to reduce work-related emissions.

The overall goal of this policy is to encourage a low-carbon working culture by “valuing the health and productivity benefits that can be gained by reducing travel, supporting each other in making conscious travel decisions, and working towards sensitizing others to the needs of the research community to walk the talk on climate change.”3

GPE’s flying activity and associated emissions will be reported annually and the report will be made publicly available. Our efforts will also contribute to Concordia University’s new Sustainability Action Plan, which includes a goal of decreasing research-related greenhouse gas emissions across the University. The GPE flying less policy was passed on June 1st, 2019 with a target of reducing significantly their flight-related greenhouse gas emissions every year. To assess the efficiency of this policy, all the faculty members have agreed to disclose their annual work-related flying activity.


Data Collected from the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia University

June 2018 – May 2019

Total KM (ICAO)Total CO2 (T)Average CO2 (T)
355,55852.182.61
The “Total KM” were estimated using the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Emission Calculator. However, the “Total CO2 (T)” were estimated using the Coolclimate Calculator for carbon emissions.

June 2019 – May 2020

Total KM (ICAO)Total CO2 (T)Average CO2 (T)
136,00619.000.95
The “Total KM” were estimated using the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Emission Calculator. However, the “Total CO2 (T)” were estimated using the Coolclimate Calculator for carbon emissions.

2018 – 19 vs 2019 – 20

KM cancelled
(COVID-19)
KM saved
(Flying Less Policy)
Total KM
not traveled
75,602140,013215,615
CO2 (T) not emitted
(COVID-19)
CO2 (T) not emitted
(Flying Less Policy)
Total CO2 (T)
Reduction
11.3115.6826.99

References

1.  Anglaret, Wymant and Jean (2019) Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/researchers-set-an-example-fly-less-111046

2. See for instance “Calling Upon Universities and Professional Associations to Greatly Reduce Flying”: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1URRRh4zMSpvtZY08F9-Rkbx0qkNNmfzIzqOlqZWKxkE/edit

3. LUCSOS (2018). Travel Policy. Retrieved from https://www.lucsus.lu.se/article/lucsus-presents-new-travel-policy-to-reduce-work-related-emissions