Research travel-related GHG emissions of our group

Industrial Ecology Freiburg is an international research group with collaborations across many countries and several continents. Our international collaborations contribute to generating knowledge about the potential of resource efficiency, circular economy, and sufficiency in different parts of the world. They help form a global research community for sustainable development, where colleagues from different cultural and scientific backgrounds co-design and assess sustainable futures. Our activities also lead to the application of resource efficiency and circular economy strategies in different policy making processes.

As a group, we are aware of the environmental impact of our activities and are actively seeking measures to reduce it. Our research activities involve computer-based assessments and modelling, with some use of high performance computing. For such type of work, the climate impact of research-related air travel is largest, followed by the impact of heating our offices in the winter and by the impact of the manufacturing and use of our computational infrastructure.

In particular, we have reduced the amount of air travel by

  • Factoring in the climate impact of air travel into decision making, which has repeatedly lead to that we preferred regional or mid-European conference over those that are further away
  • Making an effort in investigating good train connections to travel to Mid-European conferences and other meetings.

For the remaining air travel linked to our research activities, we report here, in response to the stipulation in our faculty-wide agreement on air travel emissions [1], the following activities and related emissions in 2023. The GHG emissions ware obtained by entering the flight destinations into [2], including a correction factor for CO2 emissions at high altitude.

  • 1 Flight Norway-Germany for project meeting related to the modelling of the circular economy for individual European countries: about 300 kg of CO2
  • 1 Return flight Germany-Japan Germany for collaboration with colleagues at Nagoya University on sustainable urban development: about 5000 kg of CO2
  • 1 Return Flight Hamburg-Venice for European project on understanding the future potential of the circular economy: about 390 kg of CO2
  • 1 Flight Turkey-Germany for visiting researcher: about 380 kg of CO2
  • 1 Flight China-Germany for international doctoral student: about 2500 kg of CO2

The total GHG impact of our travel activities is about 8.6 tons of CO2-equivalents, and the work of five out of our seven colleagues in the group benefited from the travel, or travelling made the work possible in the first place, when it allowed colleagues from far away countries to come to Freiburg.

Next to these activities, we had in total 10 project meetings and conference visits by long-distance train (in Venice, Leiden, Corsica, and Hamburg) and 3 project meetings and conference visits by regional train (in Karlsruhe, Pforzheim).

References/Links – access date: December 17th, 2024:

[1] https://www.unr.uni-freiburg.de/de/NewsandEvents/2023-nachrichten/unr-verabschiedet-verhaltenskodex-zum-umgang-mit-treibhausgasemissionen-durch-dienstreisen

[2] https://www.atmosfair.de/de/kompensieren/flug/

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