Travel Less Without Loss
It is alarming to note that approximately 34% of EPFL’s total CO2 emissions are related to business travel. In 2019, trips made on behalf of the EPFL School of Life Sciences alone emitted 1,195 tonnes of CO2.
The objective of this project is to identify ways and propose tools through which EPFL scientists can reduce the environmental impact of work-related trips, improve accessibility to scientific conferences, data and results, without neglecting the importance of social contacts in such events.
The objective is not to abolish travels, but to reduce them considerably. An efficient way to achieve this is by replacing some of the usual air travel with train travel. Indeed, the difference in CO2 emissions can be large depending on the means of transport that are used.
From October to November 2020, a survey was conducted by Sustainability SV and Sustainability EPFL to measure the scope of the Travel Less Without Loss (TLWL) project and the impacts of Covid-19 on travel and work habits. During this period, the scientific community of the Faculty was able to provide feedback on its relationship to academic travel, as well as on the transition to digital meetings in recent years.
This survey revealed many interesting points:
- 55% of those aware of sustainability issues say they have been positively influenced by the TLWL campaign on their engagement
- 82% consider the reduction of flight-related emissions to be somewhat or very important
- The scientific community of the Faculty is ready to implement various measures to reduce CO2 emissions from academic flights.
EPFL is part of the Swiss network for sustainable professional mobility. This network brings together representatives from UNIL, the universities of Basel, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Luzern, Neuchâtel, St Gallen, Zurich, Università della Svizzera italiana, ETHZ and EPFL who work together to reduce the CO2 emissions generated by business travel.
In the world, other universities define rules or recommendations to reduce the CO2 footprint related to the professional travel of their researchers or administrative staff.
Examples in Europe include the universities of Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds, Lund, Gothenburg; in the United States, the universities of Washington, San Diego; in Canada, in Montreal, McGill University.
This map illustrates all initiatives similar to the Travel Less Without Loss project around the world. For more information, visit the interactive version of the map, the result of Agnes Kreil’s PhD at ETHZ.
And if you still have time …
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It is possible for laboratories and EPFL units to offset CO2 emissions from air travel via the operating budget