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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
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
Key takeaway slides
• Slides 4-8 are also repeated below in context.
@KA_Nicholas
Peter Kalmus, climate scientist:
initial carbon footprint dominated by flying
Kalmus, 2016, “How far can we get without flying?” YES Magazine
@KA_Nicholas
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
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
Full report: https://tyndall.ac.uk/travel-strategy
@KA_Nicholas
Wynes & Donner, 2018, Action Plan, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report
@KA_Nicholas
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
Flying is unusual
• Most Americans don’t fly, or fly once or twice
a year
@KA_Nicholas
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
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
Average American does not fly much,
therefore low footprint from air travel
Jones & Kammen, 2011, Environmental Science & Technology
@KA_Nicholas
Air travel emissions tend to
increase with income
Jones & Kammen, 2011, Environmental Science & Technology
@KA_Nicholas
For those who do fly,
it has a very large climate impact
@KA_Nicholas
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
Peter Kalmus, climate scientist:
initial carbon footprint dominated by flying
Kalmus, 2016, “How far can we get without flying?” YES Magazine
@KA_Nicholas
High-impact personal climate actions:
meat, car, & flight-free; 1 fewer child
Wynes & Nicholas, 2017, Environmental Research Letters
Graphic by Catrin Jakobsson
@KA_Nicholas
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
Daily choices on mobility, food &
energy save emissions today
Wynes & Nicholas, 2017, Environmental Research Letters
Graphic by Catrin Jakobsson
@KA_Nicholas
Reproductive choices today have enormous
carbon legacy (esp. w/ high GHG lifestyles)
Wynes & Nicholas, 2017, Environmental Research Letters
Graphic by Catrin Jakobsson
@KA_Nicholas
Academics fly a lot, and it has
a big climate impact
@KA_Nicholas
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
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
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
Frequent flying can also impact health,
stress, & work-life balance
@KA_Nicholas
More senior academics tend to fly more
Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University@KA_Nicholas
Why do academics fly?
@KA_Nicholas
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
74% of a PhD carbon footprint is plane travel
@KA_Nicholas
Achten et al., 2013, Ecol Econ
Fieldwork by plane
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
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
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
Academic leaders reducing flying
increases public willingness to reduce
their own emissions
@KA_Nicholas
The public finds scientists who fly less
more credible
@KA_Nicholas
Attari et al., 2016, Climatic Change
The public is more willing to fly less if
credible researchers recommend it
@KA_Nicholas
Attari et al., 2016, Climatic Change
Sustainability scientists think their flying behavior
matters, but still see their colleagues flying
Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University
@KA_Nicholas
Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University
@KA_Nicholas
Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University
@KA_Nicholas
Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University
@KA_Nicholas
Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University
@KA_Nicholas
Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University
@KA_Nicholas
Recommendations to reduce
academic flying
@KA_Nicholas
Wynes & Donner, 2018, Action Plan, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report
@KA_Nicholas
Full report: https://tyndall.ac.uk/travel-strategy
@KA_Nicholas
Le Quéré et al., 2015, “Towards a culture of low-carbon research for the 21st century”
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
@KA_Nicholas
Possible measures to consider to
reduce air travel
Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University
@KA_Nicholas
Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University
@KA_Nicholas
Individuals, initiatives and institutions
are leading by example
@KA_Nicholas
Institutions setting goals & tracking flights
@KA_Nicholas
One option for academic flight tracking
http://traveltracker.world/
@KA_Nicholas
https://academicflyingblog.wordpress.com/
Petition text:
@KA_Nicholas
Stories of flying less
@KA_Nicholas
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
@KA_Nicholas
@KA_Nicholas
Twitter hashtag #flyingless
@KA_Nicholas

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Academic flying

  • 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. 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. Key takeaway slides • Slides 4-8 are also repeated below in context. @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. 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. 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
  • 8. Wynes & Donner, 2018, Action Plan, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. Flying is unusual • Most Americans don’t fly, or fly once or twice a year @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. 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. Average American does not fly much, therefore low footprint from air travel Jones & Kammen, 2011, Environmental Science & Technology @KA_Nicholas
  • 14. Air travel emissions tend to increase with income Jones & Kammen, 2011, Environmental Science & Technology @KA_Nicholas
  • 15. For those who do fly, it has a very large climate impact @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. Peter Kalmus, climate scientist: initial carbon footprint dominated by flying Kalmus, 2016, “How far can we get without flying?” YES Magazine @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. 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. Daily choices on mobility, food & energy save emissions today Wynes & Nicholas, 2017, Environmental Research Letters Graphic by Catrin Jakobsson @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. Academics fly a lot, and it has a big climate impact @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. 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. 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. Frequent flying can also impact health, stress, & work-life balance @KA_Nicholas
  • 27. More senior academics tend to fly more Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University@KA_Nicholas
  • 28. Why do academics fly? @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. 74% of a PhD carbon footprint is plane travel @KA_Nicholas Achten et al., 2013, Ecol Econ Fieldwork by plane
  • 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. 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. 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. Academic leaders reducing flying increases public willingness to reduce their own emissions @KA_Nicholas
  • 35. The public finds scientists who fly less more credible @KA_Nicholas Attari et al., 2016, Climatic Change
  • 36. The public is more willing to fly less if credible researchers recommend it @KA_Nicholas Attari et al., 2016, Climatic Change
  • 37. Sustainability scientists think their flying behavior matters, but still see their colleagues flying Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University @KA_Nicholas
  • 38. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  • 39. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  • 40. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  • 41. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  • 42. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  • 43. Recommendations to reduce academic flying @KA_Nicholas
  • 44. Wynes & Donner, 2018, Action Plan, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions report @KA_Nicholas
  • 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. Possible measures to consider to reduce air travel Isabell Burian, 2018, MSc thesis, Lund University @KA_Nicholas
  • 48. Westlake, 2017. MSc Thesis, Birkbeck University @KA_Nicholas
  • 49. Individuals, initiatives and institutions are leading by example @KA_Nicholas
  • 50. Institutions setting goals & tracking flights @KA_Nicholas
  • 51. One option for academic flight tracking http://traveltracker.world/ @KA_Nicholas
  • 53. Stories of flying less @KA_Nicholas
  • 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

Editor's Notes

  1. https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/life-after-oil/how-far-can-we-get-without-flying-20160211
  2. https://pics.uvic.ca/addressing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-business-related-air-travel-public-institutions-case-study
  3. https://pics.uvic.ca/addressing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-business-related-air-travel-public-institutions-case-study
  4. https://tyndall.ac.uk/travel-strategy
  5. https://pics.uvic.ca/addressing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-business-related-air-travel-public-institutions-case-study
  6. http://airlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2016Survey.pdf
  7. http://airlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2016Survey.pdf
  8. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es102221h
  9. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es102221h
  10. https://tyndall.ac.uk/travel-strategy
  11. https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/life-after-oil/how-far-can-we-get-without-flying-20160211
  12. Study: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541 Magazine articles, films, infographics, supporting materials: http://www.kimnicholas.com/responding-to-climate-change.html
  13. Study: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541 Magazine articles, films, infographics, supporting materials: http://www.kimnicholas.com/responding-to-climate-change.html
  14. Study: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541 Magazine articles, films, infographics, supporting materials: http://www.kimnicholas.com/responding-to-climate-change.html
  15. Study: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541 Magazine articles, films, infographics, supporting materials: http://www.kimnicholas.com/responding-to-climate-change.html
  16. https://pics.uvic.ca/addressing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-business-related-air-travel-public-institutions-case-study
  17. https://pics.uvic.ca/addressing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-business-related-air-travel-public-institutions-case-study
  18. https://pics.uvic.ca/addressing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-business-related-air-travel-public-institutions-case-study
  19. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/27/business/business-travel-health-problems.html
  20. https://lup.lub.lu.se/student-papers/search/publication/8947780
  21. https://pics.uvic.ca/addressing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-business-related-air-travel-public-institutions-case-study
  22. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0296-2
  23. DOI: 10.1111/1746-692X.12106
  24. DOI: 10.1111/1746-692X.12106
  25. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GHMzLpkPVJ-a2fifjswLxxqAqTEllVNs/view
  26. https://lup.lub.lu.se/student-papers/search/publication/8947780
  27. Thesis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GHMzLpkPVJ-a2fifjswLxxqAqTEllVNs/view
  28. Thesis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GHMzLpkPVJ-a2fifjswLxxqAqTEllVNs/view
  29. Thesis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GHMzLpkPVJ-a2fifjswLxxqAqTEllVNs/view
  30. Thesis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GHMzLpkPVJ-a2fifjswLxxqAqTEllVNs/view
  31. Thesis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GHMzLpkPVJ-a2fifjswLxxqAqTEllVNs/view
  32. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GHMzLpkPVJ-a2fifjswLxxqAqTEllVNs/view
  33. https://pics.uvic.ca/addressing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-business-related-air-travel-public-institutions-case-study
  34. https://tyndall.ac.uk/travel-strategy
  35. Thesis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GHMzLpkPVJ-a2fifjswLxxqAqTEllVNs/view
  36. https://www.stockholmresilience.org/news--events/general-news/2018-04-12-new-tool-for-centre-staff-to-set-emissions-targets.html
  37. https://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/life-after-oil/how-far-can-we-get-without-flying-20160211
  38. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/a-hard-look-in-the-climate-mirror/