Yesterday we started the entirely online learning Futures Festival, ( (there’s still time to take part) with 218 delegates.
It led me to do a few amateur calculations about the environmental impact of academic conferences.
Here’s some brief conclusions for comment:
Suppose 200 delegates drove to Leicester for a conference. Perhaps they shared cars and there were 2 in a car = 100 journeys. Say an average 100 kms each way = 200 kms per return travel. They are all in a Ford Focus petrol engine which uses 222 grams of CO2 per km.
222 x 200 x 100 = 4.44 metric tons of CO2.
Of course instead they will be using their computers. A standard PC consumes around 32 kilograms per year (electricity) if on 8 hours per day (less for laptops).
So…15.4 grammes of CO2 per hour.
15.4 grams x 200 delegates = 3.08 kilos of CO2 per conference hour.
Say our 200 delegates stayed online for 8 hours a day for all 8 days of the conference (we hope!!) that would consume , 3.08 x 8 x 8 = 0.197 metric tonnes.
Balancing the equation : it’s 22 times CO2 less for conferencing online for 8 days compared to driving for 1 day! I know that there will be carbon involved in the manufacture of the PCs but it surely won’t be 22 times more.
• 42 of our delegates are outside the UK (from 21 countries across the globe)
• Say an average journey of 2400 kms to come to Leicester…
• If they had flown here (in a 747) the carbon cost would is around 97 kilograms of fuel per passenger, 302 kilograms of CO2 per passenger
• 302 kilograms of CO2 x 42 delegates = 12.68 metric tonnes.
Taking part online = 42 X 3.08 x 8 x 8 = .0083
Gilly Salmon

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