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Academic flying

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Summary of current research and examples from practice on the climate impact of academic flying, and initiatives to fly less.

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Academic flying

  1. 1. Data on academic flying Kimberly Nicholas, PhD Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies kimnicholas.com, Twitter: @KA_Nicholas Updated 12 November 2018 Feel free to use/edit slides freely Please retain attribution to original sources for graphics and data where presented Links to original sources are in Notes section @KA_Nicholas
  2. 2. Executive summary • Academics fly a lot and it has a very large carbon footprint, both individually and for the university as a whole. • A small number of mostly senior academics fly a great deal and produce a very large carbon footprint. • Conference travel is the biggest contributor to academic flying. • Individuals who fly less or don’t fly have a large effect on the behavior of those around them. • The public thinks researchers who have a lower carbon footprint and fly less are more credible, and they are more likely to be willing to do the same. • There are good models for creating a low-carbon research culture and setting institutional goals for reduced academic flying. @KA_Nicholas
  3. 3. Key takeaway slides • Slides 4-8 are also repeated below in context. @KA_Nicholas
  4. 4. Peter Kalmus, climate scientist: initial carbon footprint dominated by flying Kalmus, 2016, “How far can we get without flying?” YES Magazine @KA_Nicholas
  5. 5. University of British Columbia Case Study: University air travel emissions ≈ 2/3 of on-campus operation emissions Wynes & Donner, 2018, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report @KA_Nicholas
  6. 6. A few academic fliers contribute most emissions Wynes & Donner, 2018, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report Survey of 1509 individuals across 8 departments at UBC: • Almost 1/3 did not fly • 8% produced half of all flight emissions • 25% produced 80% of emissions @KA_Nicholas
  7. 7. Full report: https://tyndall.ac.uk/travel-strategy @KA_Nicholas
  8. 8. Wynes & Donner, 2018, Action Plan, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report @KA_Nicholas
  9. 9. Topics 1. Flying is unusual; increases with high income 2. Flying has an extremely high climate impact 3. Academics fly a lot, and it has a big climate impact 4. Most academic flying is for conferences 5. Academics who reduce flying affect the public and their colleagues 6. Recommendations to reduce academic flying 7. Individuals, initiatives, institutions leading by example 8. Stories of flying less @KA_Nicholas
  10. 10. Flying is unusual • Most Americans don’t fly, or fly once or twice a year @KA_Nicholas
  11. 11. Most Americans did not fly in the last year Executive Summary 3 Not on an airline An Airline None of these The 2015 American Adult Flyer at a Glance % of Americans who flew on an airline in 2015 50%50% Gender Male Female 67% 8% 17% 6% 2% Race/Ethnicity White Black Hispanic Asian Other 35% 35% 30% Age 18-34 35-54 55+ 80% 14% 6% 2015 Flyer Satisfaction Satisfied Neither Dissatisfied 42% 17% 45% 81% Flew personal 2015 Flew business 2015 Flew in 2015 Ever flown Airline Travel 2015 % of US Adult Population 21 24 24 28 29 32 39 4549 55 65 70 73 76 81 81 1971 1972 1973 1974 1977 1979 1981 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1997 2016 Airline Travel 1971-2015 % of US Adult Population Ever flown Flown in last year Heimlich, 2016, Ipsos Public Affairs presentation: “Status of air travel in the USA”@KA_Nicholas
  12. 12. Average American flies 2.1 trips/year 4 Trips per Airline Traveler 15 2 2 6 5 9 10 20 31 9+ trips 8 trips 7 trips 6 trips 5 trips 4 trips 3 trips 2 trips 1 trip Q3. In 2015, how many trips did you take on airlines for the following purposes? Count each roundtrip as a single trip and include any trips planned for the last few weeks of 2015 2015 Airline Travelers % of all 2015 flyers take X trips 6 1 1 3 2 4 5 9 14 55 9+ trips 8 trips 7 trips 6 trips 5 trips 4 trips 3 trips 2 trips 1 trip 0 trips All American Adults % of all Americans take X trips Average 4.8 trips Average 2.1 trips Heimlich, 2016, Ipsos Public Affairs presentation: “Status of air travel in the USA” @KA_Nicholas
  13. 13. Average American does not fly much, therefore low footprint from air travel Jones & Kammen, 2011, Environmental Science & Technology @KA_Nicholas
  14. 14. Air travel emissions tend to increase with income Jones & Kammen, 2011, Environmental Science & Technology @KA_Nicholas
  15. 15. For those who do fly, it has a very large climate impact @KA_Nicholas
  16. 16. Flying is extremely carbon intensive Le Quéré et al., 2015, “Towards a culture of low-carbon research for the 21st century” Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research @KA_Nicholas
  17. 17. Peter Kalmus, climate scientist: initial carbon footprint dominated by flying Kalmus, 2016, “How far can we get without flying?” YES Magazine @KA_Nicholas
  18. 18. High-impact personal climate actions: meat, car, & flight-free; 1 fewer child Wynes & Nicholas, 2017, Environmental Research Letters Graphic by Catrin Jakobsson @KA_Nicholas
  19. 19. Budget for household emissions for <2° in 2050: 2.1 tons/person/year in 2050 (Girod et al., 2013) Wynes & Nicholas, 2017, Environmental Research Letters Graphic by Catrin Jakobsson @KA_Nicholas One roundtrip transatlantic flight is 80% of a sustainable annual carbon budget
  20. 20. Daily choices on mobility, food & energy save emissions today Wynes & Nicholas, 2017, Environmental Research Letters Graphic by Catrin Jakobsson @KA_Nicholas
  21. 21. Reproductive choices today have enormous carbon legacy (esp. w/ high GHG lifestyles) Wynes & Nicholas, 2017, Environmental Research Letters Graphic by Catrin Jakobsson @KA_Nicholas
  22. 22. Academics fly a lot, and it has a big climate impact @KA_Nicholas
  23. 23. UBC Case Study: University air travel emissions ≈ 2/3 of on-campus operation emissions Wynes & Donner, 2018, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report @KA_Nicholas
  24. 24. Most university travel is <1 week trips Wynes & Donner, 2018, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report Pacif cInstituteforClimateSolutions Figure1:Histogram of trip length.Notethat a small number of tripslonger than 40nightsarenot shown. @KA_Nicholas
  25. 25. A few academic fliers contribute most emissions Wynes & Donner, 2018, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report Survey of 1509 individuals across 8 departments at UBC: • Almost 1/3 did not fly • 8% produced half of all flight emissions • 25% produced 80% of emissions @KA_Nicholas
  26. 26. Frequent flying can also impact health, stress, & work-life balance @KA_Nicholas
  27. 27. More senior academics tend to fly more Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University@KA_Nicholas
  28. 28. Why do academics fly? @KA_Nicholas
  29. 29. Most university travel is for conferences 11 Figure1:Histogram of trip length.Notethat a small number of tripslonger than 40nightsarenot shown. Figure 2: Emissions associated with each primary purpose of trip in the bottom-up sample of eight UBC campusunits. Wynes & Donner, 2018, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report @KA_Nicholas
  30. 30. 74% of a PhD carbon footprint is plane travel @KA_Nicholas Achten et al., 2013, Ecol Econ Fieldwork by plane
  31. 31. Most conferences do not profile their climate or environmental impact Holden et al., 2017, Nature Ecology & Evolution Assessed environmental impact policies of 116 international and national academic conferences from 18 scientific disciplines in 31 countries @KA_Nicholas
  32. 32. International flights to attend conferences = majority of conference footprint Desiere, 2016, EuroChoices@KA_Nicholas Half of emissions came from 10% of attendees who took transatlantic flight
  33. 33. Strategies to reduce conference carbon footprints Desiere, 2016, EuroChoices • Reduce participants traveling long distances • Ensure key role in conference for those who do travel long distances • Consider desired attendees and select central conference location for them • Select location with good train/transit connectivity • Do not reward selecting exotic/remote conference locales • Facilitate booking train tickets, offer discount vouchers from train companies, inform participants about their carbon footprint@KA_Nicholas
  34. 34. Academic leaders reducing flying increases public willingness to reduce their own emissions @KA_Nicholas
  35. 35. The public finds scientists who fly less more credible @KA_Nicholas Attari et al., 2016, Climatic Change
  36. 36. The public is more willing to fly less if credible researchers recommend it @KA_Nicholas Attari et al., 2016, Climatic Change
  37. 37. Sustainability scientists think their flying behavior matters, but still see their colleagues flying Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University @KA_Nicholas
  38. 38. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  39. 39. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  40. 40. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  41. 41. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  42. 42. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  43. 43. Recommendations to reduce academic flying @KA_Nicholas
  44. 44. Wynes & Donner, 2018, Action Plan, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report @KA_Nicholas
  45. 45. Full report: https://tyndall.ac.uk/travel-strategy @KA_Nicholas
  46. 46. Le Quéré et al., 2015, “Towards a culture of low-carbon research for the 21st century” Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research @KA_Nicholas
  47. 47. Possible measures to consider to reduce air travel Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University @KA_Nicholas
  48. 48. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  49. 49. Individuals, initiatives and institutions are leading by example @KA_Nicholas
  50. 50. Institutions setting goals & tracking flights @KA_Nicholas
  51. 51. One option for academic flight tracking http://traveltracker.world/ @KA_Nicholas
  52. 52. https://academicflyingblog.wordpress.com/ Petition text: @KA_Nicholas
  53. 53. Stories of flying less @KA_Nicholas
  54. 54. Peter Kalmus: 10x lower emissions Kalmus, 2016, “How far can we get without flying?” YES Magazine 2.1 tons/person/yea r by 2050: target for staying below 2° (Girod et al., 2014) @KA_Nicholas
  55. 55. @KA_Nicholas
  56. 56. @KA_Nicholas
  57. 57. Twitter hashtag #flyingless @KA_Nicholas

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