As part of its sustainable development measures, the University of Konstanz has introduced its own Air Travel Policy. The policy expresses the university's commitment to permanently reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel by its members. In the first year after the coronavirus pandemic, the university aims to significantly reduce its emissions from air travel as compared with the period from 2017 to 2019 (period of comparison before the pandemic) – without hampering exchange among researchers. For the aforementioned period, business air travel by university members (academic staff and academic support staff) accounted for about a third of the university's total green house gas emissions resulting from its heating and electricity needs. Alongside its Air Travel Policy (ATP), the university has thus also instated mandatory guidelines and measures to reduce emissions from its members' air travel.
Guidelines and measures
In its Air Travel Policy, the University of Konstanz lays out guidelines, goals and measures to significantly reduce climate-damaging emissions from air travel. These emissions increased substantially, especially in the last few years before the pandemic, and they comprise a consequential proportion of the university's total greenhouse emissions. In the first year after the coronavirus pandemic, the university aims to reduce its emissions from air travel by at least one third as compared with the period from 2017 to 2019 (period of comparison before the pandemic).
In order to reach the climate goals defined in its Air Travel Policy, the university will do the following: University members will be given good alternatives to in-person events through increased infrastructure for digital communication formats in line with the university's e-science strategy. Virtual formats that were expanded during the pandemic will remain available, and some conferences will be offered in hybrid form in the future: with both on-campus and digital participants. Air travel will thus no longer be absolutely necessary for attendance. In cases where travel is necessary, the university will advise and encourage its members to plan trips that are as ecologically conscious as possible.
"Today, scientific and academic exchange is no longer tied to travel. Digital and hybrid event formats make it possible for researchers to take part in international conferences without having to fly there. This not only reduces emissions but also saves time and money. At the same time, this also reduces the barriers for participating in conferences that are hosted in far away places," says Professor Christine Peter.
Accompanying project: "Flying Less (Umweltfreundliches Dienstreisemanagement an Hochschulen)"
Project leader: Dr Susann Görlinger, ifeu
Partner institution: TdLab Geography at Heidelberg University
We will gain valuable impulses for the further development of the ATP through the active participation of the University of Konstanz in the project. The ATP was approved by the university's Senate and submitted to the Rectorate for implementation. In addition to this, we hope to profit from support with the implementation process (developing a corresponding process and establishing appropriate structures) in close collaboration with the respective university bodies and status groups.
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