Conferences can cut their carbon footprint hugely by shifting online

A new paper shows how conferences moving online can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and help to combat climate change.

Published Fri, Dec 17 2021 4:30 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Jan 11 2022 8:25 PM CST

A new paper has shown that transitioning conferences online or into a semi-online environment can be a viable climate change mitigation strategy.

Conferences can cut their carbon footprint hugely by shifting online 01 |

The new paper found professional conferences moved into a completely online setting reduced their carbon footprint by 94 percent. Shifting the conference to a hybrid model where no more than half of the conventioneers moved online reduced the footprint by 67 percent.

"We all go to conferences. We fly, we drive, we check in to a hotel, give a talk, meet people-and we're done. But we looked at this problem comprehensively and behind the scenes, conventions generate a lot of carbon, consume a lot of energy, print a lot of paper, offer a lot of food, not to mention create municipal solid waste," said Fengqi You, the paper's senior author.

According to the paper, over 1.5 billion participants from roughly 180 countries traveled to attend conferences in 2017. Every ten years, the number of regular, international conventions with more than 50 people doubles. Over the next decade, the convention industry's market size is expected to grow at a rate of 11.2%.

"There is a lot of interest and attention on climate change, so moving from in-person conferences to hybrid or remote events would be beneficial. But we should also be cautious and optimize decisions in terms of selecting hubs and determining participant levels for hybrid meetings," said You.

You can read more from the paper here.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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