Our Goals

We believe that our research community can and will benefit from the development of online communication platforms. There are several reasons for this.

Long-distance traveling is expensive, and often requires arrangements in scheduling, two aspects that make it not available to everyone. Even when funding and scheduling are not a problem, traveling can be difficult for some, for instance people with caring commitments or health constraints. Online platforms are more inclusive, allowing for the participation of essentially anyone with access to the Internet.

If we are to stand up to the challenge of climate change, we need to drastically reduce our CO2 emissions [1]. In all likelihood, travel is the most important cause of CO2 emissions in academia; for instance, ETH Zurich estimates that approximately 90% of its carbon emissions come from travel alone [2]. One person watching an online seminar contributes to about 10g of CO2 emissions, or roughly the carbon footprint of a cup of coffee (if you don't put milk in it, that is). In contrast, flying from Paris to New York causes about one hundred thousand times more emissions [3].

Please take a moment to think how much travel your research really needs.


[1] At the Paris Agreement, the international community agreed to limit global warming to "well below" 2°C above pre-industrial level, and to "pursue efforts" to limit it to 1.5°C above pre-industrial level. As scientists wrote in 2016, "this climate goal represents the level of climate change that governments agree would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system, while ensuring sustainable food production and economic development [...]. Limiting warming to any level implies that the total amount of CO2 that can ever be emitted into the atmosphere is finite. From a geophysical perspective, global CO2 emissions thus need to become net zero. About two thirds of the available budget for keeping warming to below 2°C have already been emitted, and increasing trends in CO2 emissions indicate that global emissions urgently need to start to decline so as to not foreclose the possibility of holding warming to well below 2°C. The window for limiting warming to below 1.5 °C with high probability and without temporarily exceeding that level already seems to have closed". See here and references therein.
[2] See here.
[3] Watching one hour of the video content we produce at the highest resolution available represents less than 100 MB of data stream; we used estimates from here to convert this into CO2 emissions. The carbon footprint of a cup of coffee is from here, and that of the flight from there.