A considerable proportion of the academic community’s environmental impact stems from travel to conferences. Air travel by UZH members accounts for over 8,000 tonnes, or 36 percent, of UZH’s total GHG emissions. The international travel in connection with international collaboration in research and teaching, a stated goal of UZH’s mission statement, is thus in latent conflict with the goal of protecting the climate. In terms of sustainability, it’s crucial to mitigate this conflict of interests as far as possible, while maintaining freedom of research and teaching.
- Take the train rather than flying for work-related trips within Europe. When weighing up the time involved, consider the work you’ll be able to get done during the journey.
- You can also reduce travel-related emissions by using a single journey for multiple purposes.
- When inviting external guests or reviewers, and when organizing your own work-related travel, consider whether virtual collaboration or video conferencing might also serve the purpose.
To encourage virtual collaboration, UZH makes video conferencing equipment and the relevant services available to all staff. Desktop video conferencing systems, for example, are ideal for online meetings and conferences with presentations on your computer. With a good table microphone, up to four people per location can take part in a video conference. You also have the option of booking one of the three video conference rooms on Irchel Campus that are managed by Multimedia & E-Learning Services (MELS): two smaller rooms (for 6 to 16 people), and a teleteaching lecture hall (for up to 112 participants). If you want to make a tangible contribution to protecting the climate by avoiding air travel, you can also ask MELS for support with conducting video conferences in the office, lecture halls and seminar rooms.
By Alice Werner, translated by Michael Craig