EGU takes measures to reduce environmental impact of its General Assembly
13 March 2018
The EGU meeting, the largest geoscience conference in Europe, attracts over 14,000 attendees to Vienna, Austria every year. With such a large number of participants, many flying to the Austrian capital to attend, the meeting has a large environmental impact.
For the first time this year, we are giving participants the opportunity to offset the CO2 emissions resulting from their travel to and from Vienna. People who use this option on registration will be contributing to a project to reduce deforestation in Brazil.
The conference venue, the Austria Center Vienna (ACV), also has a number of green measures in place, including having energy-saving LEDs throughout the centre, using a solar array to heat the water used in the kitchens and toilets, and working with an in-house catering company compliant with green standards.
“Our General Assembly offers an important yearly opportunity for geoscientists to present their latest findings, obtain feedback on their work in discussions, and especially meet and network with colleagues. These are in my eyes very understandable reasons for over 14,000 scientists from more than 100 countries to travel to Vienna in 2018. However, their travel, accommodation and days in the ACV imply a carbon emission,” says Susanne Buiter, EGU 2018 Programme Committee Chair.
To reduce carbon emissions, we are encouraging participants to travel by train to Vienna when possible. For example, we are promoting a discount offered by SBB, the Swiss Federal Railways, to General Assembly participants traveling from Switzerland to Vienna for the meeting. As in previous years, we also encourage participants to use public transportation once in Vienna, by giving away a weekly transportation pass with every week ticket to the meeting.
“We take minimising the environmental impacts of our activities very seriously and are striving to reduce the carbon footprint and resource burden of the General Assembly. This will not be an overnight process but we are proud of the steps we have taken towards this goal so far,” says EGU President Jonathan Bamber.
Other measures we are implementing to reduce the environmental impact of the meeting include serving only vegetarian sandwiches at the division meetings this year and no longer offering single-use water bottles at coffee breaks. Instead, we will give away small camel water bags to attendees and will place water fountains throughout the centre.
The programme book distributed this year will also be smaller than in the past. The new books are a third of the size of the ones used before 2017, resulting in a significant reduction in the amount of paper and heavy-metal printing colour used. We are also reducing the number of printed copies of EGU Today from 2500 to 1500 a day (a digital version of the daily newsletter is available online and on the conference app). In addition, the lanyards used at the conference are produced using 100% recycled material.
“I am very glad the EGU is taking measures to try to reduce the carbon emission of its General Assembly, both by offering the possibility for carbon offset at registration, but also taking measures during the conference itself. Please help us by taking the train to Vienna, car-pooling where possible, recycling and using the water fountains where possible!” Buiter encourages.