Travel is one of the three top sources of greenhouse gas emissions globally. At the University, we take a 'climate conscious' approach to travel to reduce our emissions where we can.
Why is travel important?
Travel offers opportunities for individuals, groups, and companies. It is a significant employer and driver of economies worldwide. However, travel is unequal, with the richest taking more flights. Air travel is a significant source of carbon emissions, estimated at 3.5% of global warming in 2019.
As a global university, we rely on international collaboration to achieve the best standards in teaching and research. That means that our staff and occasionally, our students, fly more than 80 million kilometres per year. That’s more than 100 times to the moon and back, or about halfway from the Earth to the Sun.
Over time, our travel emissions have risen significantly to the point that they will likely be the number one cause of our carbon emissions before 2040. In recent years, the increase in business travel cancelled out all the emissions cut from other parts of our operations.
Flights are responsible for 95% of our travel emissions, and more than half of those are from long-haul international flights where it wouldn’t be easy to take another form of transport.
To tackle this challenge, in 2020 we introduced the Climate Conscious Travel project.
Right now, most staff and students who come to the University do so on foot, by bike or on public transport – those are the most sustainable ways to get around.
That’s great, but we want to help even more people to do this and to make it easier for those who already do.
Climate conscious travel is:
- being aware of the environmental impacts of travel and choosing a method of travel that reduces these (e.g. by train rather than plane for travel within mainland Britain)
- ensuring unnecessary travel is not undertaken (e.g. sending the minimum number of individuals required to fulfil the purpose of travel)
- choosing not to travel when virtual collaboration tools will adequately fulfil the purpose of travel (e.g. for meetings where a video link would suffice)