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