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Flying Less in Academia - A Resource Guide
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Flying Less in Academia: A Resource Guide

FlyingLessResourceGuide.info

(Originally published June 2019; Most recent update: September 2021)

[Quick Links: Skip to Contents / or  Virtual Conferencing in light of COVID-19 ]

1.0 Introduction

The Flying Lessmovement is ‘taking off’ in academia! The movement has been launched by conscientious scholars around the world who are aware that flying serves as the largest share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by individual scholars, and cognizant that the world now faces a dire climate emergency. While those in the movement recognize the benefits flying has afforded the profession, in many cases flying is no longer necessary: While flying will still be important for scholars conducting distant fieldwork, the evidence shows that flying in general (to conferences or guest talks, for instance) does not correlate with a scholar’s productivity. Furthermore, advances in digital technology and new forms of scholarly exchange are making it much easier to share our research, network, and collaborate without having to fly. While we knew this before the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, during the public health emergency many scholars have further developed means of global collaboration, research, and knowledge dissemination without air travel.

Yes, we will ultimately need collective-scale action far beyond academia to address the carbon footprint of the aviation sector. We will need regulation and multilateral cooperation to tackle this problem from a global equitable perspective... but we see a direct and important role for individual scholars to play in helping to envision, promote and catalyze collective-scale shifts, principally by helping to bring about cultural and technological change in our profession, to model it to future scholars and to society at large.

The Flying Less movement in Academia aims to be inclusive and flexible. By this it is meant that it is OPEN to anyone, and everyone is invited and welcome to join us. Moreover, the intention is NOT to ‘shame’ others or ‘boycott’ an economic subsector... but rather to recognize that all colleagues are trying to do their best given their particular circumstances (career stage, institutional expectations, etc.) to support climate action at all scales; and that a truly just transition requires support for workers in high-impact sectors and public investment in mitigation and adaptation strategies (including research into new technologies).

A tremendous amount of material has been developed in recent years which relates to this movement - personal reflection pieces by concerned scholars; academic articles examining the logistics of flying less; and technical explorations and exemplars of scholarly associations attempting digital conferencing. This Resource Guide, originally published in June 2019, aims to serve as a FREE, OPEN-ACCESS repository of all resources related to the “Flying Less in Academia” movement. 

The guide is co-edited by Ryan Katz-Rosene (University of Ottawa), Garrett Richards (Memorial University of Newfoundland - Grenfell), Seth Wynes (University of British Columbia), Kimberly Nicholas (Lund University), Erica Frank (University of British Columbia), Parke Wilde (Tufts University), Joseph Nevins (Vassar College), Richard Kim (unaffiliated), and Agnes Kreil (ETH Zurich). Peter Shepherd (Environmental Studies Association of Canada) was a co-founder of the guide, but is sadly recently deceased.

The guide is organized by resource type (media articles, personal reflections, journal contributions, digital conferencing guides, and digital conferences, etc.), and as such there is some overlap. If you notice anything missing or have any suggestions of links to add, please contact an editor.

Acknowledgements:

A number of individuals have served as important inspirations for this project: Parke Wilde and Joseph Nevins of Flying Less; Peter Kalmus of No Fly Climate Sci; Kimberly Nicholas; the Board members of the Environmental Studies and Association of Canada; Organizers of the University of Alberta’s Around the World Conference; and other intellectual inspirations: Seth Wynes, Simon Donner, Milena Buchs, Jennifer Rudd, Steve Westlake, Kevin Anderson, Aarne Granlund, Erica Frank, Genevieve Guenther, and others!

2.0 Contents

1.0 Introduction

2.0 Contents

3.0 *NEW* Virtual & Alternative Conferencing in light of COVID-19

3.1 How to conduct a virtual conference

3.2 Alternative conferencing efforts during the pandemic

4.0 Petitions, Websites and Pledges

5.0 Decision-Making Aids, Argumentation Guides

6.0 Institutional Policies and Reports on Flying Less

7.0 Statements and Reduction Recommendations by Networks, Associations, etc.

8.0 Books, Journal Articles & Studies about Flying Less

9.0 Op-Eds, Personal Reflections

10.0 Personal Footprint Statements, Sample Carbon Budgets & Low-Carbon Lifestyles, by Academics

11.0 Media Coverage of Flying Less

12.0 Virtual, Digital, or Multi-Hub Conferences/ing

13.0 Practical Guides for Low-Carbon Conferencing

14.0 Carbon Offsetting

15.0 Guides for Train (and other Low-Carbon) Travel

16.0 Behavioural Change, Norms & Tipping Points in Academia

17.0 The Science of Aviation and Climate Change

18.0 Governance/Policy of Aviation and Climate

19.0 Carbon Calculators for Flights and Conferences

20.0 Videos and Webinars on Flying Less

21.0 Businesses and Other Sectors Flying Less

22.0 Co-benefits of Flying Less (Health, Equity, Inclusion...)

23.0 Art, Creative Projects, and Inspiration

24.0 Flying Less Researcher Networks

3.0 *NEW* Virtual & Alternative Conferencing in light of COVID-19

This is a collection of resources that may be of particular interest to those looking for conferencing alternatives in light of COVID-19 spread.

3.1 How to conduct a virtual conference

https://hiltner.english.ucsb.edu/index.php/ncnc-guide/

3.2 Alternative conferencing efforts during the pandemic

Here are some examples of conferences which have ‘gone 100% virtual’ as a result of COVID-19:

ICANN67 (2020): https://meetings.icann.org/en/remote67

PAM 2020: https://pam2020.cs.uoregon.edu/

4.0 Petitions, Websites and Pledges

Here are some key sites where you can ‘join’ the movement by pledging to fly less, learn about others who have joined the movement, and more:

If you want to make a pledge of your own: The travel better package of the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education includes a template for a pledge which includes educating oneself about the climate impact of flying, changing flight behavior, and advocating for change in the workplace: https://www.sustainabilityexchange.ac.uk/files/eauc-scotlands_travel_better_pledge_template_version_1.pdf 

5.0 Decision-Making Aids, Argumentation Guides

Several academic institutions and alliances have provided materials, often in the form of decision trees, which help staff make well-justified decisions about whether or not to fly.

6.0 Institutional Policies and Reports on Flying Less

Institutional policies and practices can be a great lever to change the travel behavior of many people at once, as well contribute to a change in academic travel culture.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1v49WXCeLrpWkeQFvl2xIak8qrTvV7jGe&ll=16.41388270237548%2C-101.66163065&z=2

7.0 Statements and Reduction Recommendations by Networks, Associations, etc.

8.0 Books, Journal Articles & Studies about Flying Less

        https://estsjournal.org/index.php/ests/article/view/363

https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010080

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0969699719303229

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17450101.2019.1589727

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17411912.2018.1503063

9.0 Op-Eds, Personal Reflections

This one’s a bit of a critique of flying less as attempted by individual academics.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02778-z

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/oct/29/hypocrisy--guilt-jet-off-to-academic-conferences-plane-travel?CMP=share_btn_tw

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17411912.2018.1503063

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-dolsak-prakash-carbon-tax_us_5abe746ae4b055e50acd5c80

http://kevinanderson.info/blog/a-succinct-account-of-my-view-on-individual-and-collective-action/

10.0 Personal Footprint Statements, Sample Carbon Budgets & Low-Carbon Lifestyles, by Academics

http://cup.columbia.edu/book/live-sustainably-now/9780231190909

https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/title/carbon-code

11.0 Media Coverage of Flying Less

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/116310946/physicist-shaun-hendy-maps-the-lows-highs-and-sleepless-buses-of-a-nofly-year

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/should-climate-scientists-fly/

https://thegreenmama.com/real-cost-air-travel/  (reprinted in more accessible format from the Vancouver Observer)

12.0 Virtual, Digital, or Multi-Hub Conferences/ing

        http://www.energhumanities.ca/

13.0 Practical Guides for Low-Carbon Conferencing

https://hiltner.english.ucsb.edu/index.php/ncnc-guide/

14.0 Carbon Offsetting

Carbon offsetting is fraught with conceptual and material challenges. However, some organizations are starting to lay out some ‘ground rules’ to help determine circumstances where carbon offsets are likely to effectively result in net zero climatic impact.

15.0 Guides for Train (and other Low-Carbon) Travel

16.0 Behavioural Change, Norms & Tipping Points in Academia

As we see it, the “Individual vs. Collective Action debate” is a bit of a red herring. More and more research is pointing to the need for BOTH individual change and system change, and moreover there being a RELATIONSHIP between the two! Here are some links to studies, discussions or reflections on how to effect behavioral change in Academia regarding flying.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-019-02463-0

17.0 The Science of Aviation and Climate Change

18.0 Governance/Policy of Aviation and Climate

19.0 Carbon Calculators for Flights and Conferences

20.0 Videos and Webinars on Flying Less

21.0 Businesses and Other Sectors Flying Less

Initiative to cut business emissions in the UK; trial included 24% flight reduction by BT in one year. https://web.archive.org/web/20120716233854/https://www.btplc.com/Thegroup/BlogEngine/post/WWF-One-in-Five-Challenge-e28093-A-high-flying-campaign-to-reduce-aviation-emissions.aspx 

22.0 Co-benefits of Flying Less (Health, Equity, Inclusion...)

23.0 Art, Creative Projects, and Inspiration

24.0 Flying Less Researcher Networks

An increasing number of researchers are turning their attention to the science and policy of flight reduction for climate change mitigation.

Here are a list of PhD students whose work centers on flying less (if you’re a researcher who wants to join the list, get in touch!):