CO2 emissions

In 2019, business mobility was the largest source of the EPFL’s CO2 emissions with approximately 30% of the total impact.


Scientists have always traveled around the world, whether for exploration or to share ideas. This international collaboration has intensified in recent years with participation in European projects, for example. However, this frequent travel represents more than a third of EPFL’s CO2 emissions (11,260 tons of CO2-eq in 2019), corresponding to 1,000 times around the Earth per year.

Estimated for the first time in 2019, student travel (internships, study trips, master’s projects, academic exchanges) generated 1’410 tons of CO2-eq per year.

In 2018, EPFL implemented a first pilot project to reduce air travel in collaboration with the Faculty of Life Sciences (SV). Called Travel Less Without Loss, this one showed the good acceptability of the scientific community towards a reasoned project to reduce business travel.

Review of the policy

The health crisis of 2020-2021 has demonstrated that it is possible to conduct scientific research with less business travel. The Vice Presidency for Responsible Transformation (VPT), aiming at reducing EPFL’s carbon footprint, has therefore proposed to the School’s Direction to launch a transversal reflection with a view to revising the policy on business travel without affecting academic performance.

Several transversal working groups, coordinated by the VPT, have been working on the revision of the Directives on business and student travel during 2021. They aim to achieve a 30% reduction in the impact of business travel by 2030, in line with the Confederation’s climate policy.

Climate policy and CO2 evaluation

Action plan of the Confederation

The Swiss government has set itself the goal of reducing travel-related CO2 emissions by 30% (ref. 2019) by 2030.

Calculation methodology

For the calculation of its CO2 emissions, EPFL has set up a partnership with Atmosfair, a German organization specialized in the calculation of CO2 emissions related to air travel.

EPFL Annual Report 2021

EPFL calculates its emissions related to air travel annually, using data from the central travel agency.


CO2 compensation

It is possible for EPFL laboratories and units to offset CO2 emissions from air travel via the operating budget.

Business mobility studies


Analysis of existing travel data

Quantify the ecological footprint and estimate the potential for reducing CO2 emissions.

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Correlation between academic performance and CO2 emissions

Determine whether there is a link between air travel and the academic performance of Professors.


Business mobility survey

Understand the reasons for travel, the practices and needs of researchers.


Travel Less Without Loss

The School of Life Sciences, in collaboration with EPFL Sustainability, has launched a pilot project aimed at significantly reducing air travel


As part of the Travel Less Without Loss project, guidelines on sustainable travel have been drafted

Other universities

Discover the flight reduction projects of other universities.


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EPFL Sustainability
BS 101 (BS building)
Station 4
CH-1015 Lausanne