Back in 2014, we implemented and documented the first measures to make the Lindau Meetings greener, i.e., more environment-friendly. Many details can be found in this blog article. But what happened since then?
The Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change
One year later, at the 2015 meeting, several Nobel Laureates, among them Brian Schmidt and David Gross, started an initiative to make the voice of science heard clearly in the climate change debate. Only a few months before the COP21 climate summit in Paris, they discussed the so-called Mainau Declaration on Climate Change. During the closing ceremony of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, 36 Nobel Laureates signed the declaration, and another 40 followed in the following weeks. On 7 December 2015, the Declaration was handed over by Nobel Laureates Serge Haroche and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji as well as Joachim Schellnhuber and Jean Jouzel to the President of the French Republic, Francois Hollande, as part of the COP21 climate summit in Paris. As we know, the summit had a positive outcome, at least as positive as political summit results can get in the field of climate change. We like to think that the Mainau Declaration played a part in this success.
What We Do (Now)
We are still working to make the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings more eco-friendly. Here are a few of the measures we have implemented so far:
At the Meeting
- Our renovated and improved venue is now more energy-efficient than before. The Inselhalle is also part of a network implementing sustainable event management measures.
- We offer fully organic food, wherever possible of local origin.
- We try to avoid disposable (plastic) catering items.
- All our printed materials are CO2 neutral (using certificates).
- Wherever possible, materials are produced without mixed materials (i.e. paper-plastic compounds) in order to make recycling easier.
- Our meeting bags are made of felt, and our umbrellas are also eco-friendly.
- We try to sort and recycle all waste produced.
- We encourage our partners and suppliers to implement similar measures.
- We try to achieve CO2 emission compensation through our marshland project.
In Our Office
- We try to avoid printing whenever possible and use recycled paper.
- We buy equipment made from sustainable, recycled and/or recyclable materials, with high energy efficiency, trustworthy certificates, etc.
- Our power comes from renewable sources, and we try to avoid unnecessary heating or other resource consumption.
- We try to limit travel, preferring trains over cars and planes, when reasonable.
The Problem of CO2 Emissions Caused by Travel
Everyone joining us in Lindau traveled a greater or shorter distance by some means of transportation. You came by train, car and many by plane from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North or South America. On average, each of your individual journeys to Lindau has generated an astounding 1,280 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2). Catering, lodging and printed matters lead to emissions as well, but as for climate effects, participant travel plays by far the largest role. For a typical meeting, participant travel causes 93% of all CO2 emissions.
Distance, routes and aircraft types determine emissions, but can hardly be influenced by travellers. The map below shows average CO2 emissions for flights from various destinations to Zurich and the approximate CO2 compensation costs.
Taking this into account, one could think it would be best to host fewer conferences and travel less.
We, however, also believe that scientific exchange and the inspiration we share during the Lindau Meetings are of utmost value. So, what can we do to minimise or compensate the negative consequences of our actions?
What You Can Do
Already back in 2014, we invited participants to compensate their flight’s CO2 emissions by donating to atmosfair. And while 97% stated in the post-conference survey that this is a good idea, only very few actually donated. There may be many reasons as to why, but we felt that it could help to have a specific project that you could support – something that definitely exists, and where there will be tangible results. And although having trees re-planted in the rainforest may be most efficient when it comes to immediate effects, we decided for a local project. It may take a little longer, but we know pretty well what we are doing. Thus, we would like to invite you to support our Degermoos marshland renaturation project – it is only 15 km away from Lindau.
- Marshlands play a key role when it comes to climate protection – they are highly efficient natural carbon reservoirs.
- Marshlands accumulate and preserve dead biomass because low oxygen conditions prevent its degradation. Consequently, most organic carbon remains in the soil and only little is remineralised and ends up as CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Marshlands on average store 700 tons of carbon per hectare. That’s six times the amount a forest can store!
- Around 30% of the world’s soil-bound carbon is stored in marshlands, even though they only cover 3% of the land surface.
- The drainage of marshlands leads to the creation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous dioxide (N2O), which is 310 times as climate damaging as CO2.
Renaturation of Marshlands
- Marshlands in their natural state are mostly climate neutral or can be CO2 sinks. The most important factors are the water levels and an intact ecosystem.
- The renaturation of marshlands has the great benefit of binding and saving vast amounts of greenhouse gases, most notably CO2.
- Restoration particularly includes the careful rewetting of marshlands by removing drainage channels.
We are currently preparing a background article on the science of CO2 compensation by marshlands renaturation – once we have it ready, you will find a link here.
How to support the project:
During #LINO18, we will have a donation box available at the meeting’s registration counter.
You may also donate online (using Paypal):
We believe that everyone of us should be conscious of our actions and their consequences. Therefore if you, for example, use a plane to fly to a conference or to holidays, you should be aware of the negative climate effects. And if you can, you should do something about it, e.g., by compensating. Flying less (or generating less emissions and waste in general) would also be an option. Or finally get those waste- and emission-free super safe fusion reactors working, together with some high-efficiency batteries…
Thanks for considering!
Your team of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings