Maybe it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about meetings and conferences, but these events often leave colossal carbon footprints. Think about the CO2 emissions of hundreds (for really big conferences even thousands) of people that travel by car or plane, think about a sea of mostly plastic trash, and think about countless pages of printed out conference materials. Worrisome, right? And these are only some of the more obvious ecological aspects.
In 2015, on the occasion of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, 36 Nobel Laureates signed the Mainau Declaration on Climate Change. Subsequently, 40 more Nobel Laureates added their names to the list of signatories. On 7 December 2015, the declaration was handed over by Nobel Laureates Serge Haroche and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji to the then President of France, Francois Hollande, as part of the successful COP21 climate summit in Paris. Within this declaration, the laureates warn of the danger of climate change and urge all countries to cooperate and find a way to limit future global emissions. Therefore we, as an organisation, are obliged to contribute to this purpose, too.
“In many lectures and discussions, Nobel Laureates like Christian de Duve, Steven Chu, Mario Molina, Brian Schmidt and others emphasised the importance of acting sustainably and responsibly. We therefore see this as an obligation for our work in organising the meetings,” says Wolfgang Huang, Managing Director of the Executive Secretariat of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. That’s why several years ago the idea of “green conferencing” became a new focus of attention during the planning of the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.
Katja Merx, project manager of Lindau’s conference management, is responsible for incorporating sustainability aspects into the planning of the meetings. “To me, it was only natural to devote myself to this issue in my working environment, too. I have been following the principle of sustainability for years in my private life, anyway,” Katja remarks. It’s not all about environmental protection though, according to Katja: “Many people tend to forget that sustainability also includes economic and social aspects – and we’re steadily trying to increase our efforts in these areas, too.”
We review all measures each year in the early planning phase of a meeting and try constantly to explore further possibilities within the limits of what we can do as a non-profit organisation. These are the measures we will take in 2017 in an effort to make the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences more sustainable:
- All electricity used for the meeting is provided by the Lindau municipal utilities, which run on 100% green energy
- Young economists may use Lindau’s public bus system during the meeting week for free
- The shuttle service for the Nobel Laureates partly consists of hybrid cars
- Meeting bags are produced from sustainable materials
- Meeting lanyards are produced from materials that are 100% recyclable, and no plastic covers are used for the name badges
- Meeting tents: flysheets and floor coverings are reusable
- All tents use energy saving lamps
- Catering: regional and seasonal food
- Mineral water is provided in glass bottles in order to avoid plastic trash.
- Local companies are selected for services such as catering, technical support or logistics
- The proportion of printed conference materials is reduced to a minimum, and instead we make an advanced use of online devices
- Young economists are encouraged to use Atmosfair for their flights (details below)
If you can’t avoid it, compensate!
An international conference can hardly avoid CO2 emissions caused by air travel of its participants; however, there is the possibility of making up for that by donating money to climate friendly projects. For this, we are partnering with the trusted German NGO Atmosfair. They offer a service that calculates the CO2 emission generated by your flight as well as the amount of money that should be donated in turn to climate protection projects to equalise these emissions.
If you are considering using Atmosfair for your Lindau flights, we would like to ask you to please use the embedded form below. This way, we will be able to analyse how many of our meeting participants are actually making use of Atmosfair (you can change the language settings on the bottom right of the window):
We encourage all participating young economists to consider using this service for their travel to and from Lindau. As travel is organised by the young economists themselves, this is of course absolutely voluntary.