How do we cut GHG emissions of research without hampering high-quality international cooperation?

ATMO-ACCESS pilots a carbon footprint assessment

Despite the awareness of the climate emergency, some specific practices present in the research profession are not in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In ATMO-ACCESS, we want to address this paradox. Being a project aimed to support society in tackling the climate emergency, ATMO-ACCESS will favour the reduction of the carbon footprint of its travel-intensive activities. 

But how do we cut GHG emissions of research without hampering high-quality international cooperation? A simple, straightforward answer does not exist, but many initiatives are being developed by researchers around the world. In the ATMO-ACCESS community, a survey was shared to collect ideas and define priorities for our project. 

The survey response points to annual meetings, hands-on training (especially for young scientists) and networking events as essential to be carried out in person. On the other hand, the respondents consider that short meetings with people already familiar with each other, and some – but not all – annual meetings could be easily delivered remotely. The answers also provide insightful suggestions on how to improve remote work, including investing in interactive tools, technical support and shared platforms as well as setting clear structuring rules for online meetings.

In fact, the replies provided underline the need for more balance between remote activities – ensuring high inclusivity and accessibility while reducing travel-related emissions – and in-person activities – allowing networking and essential social interactions. Another issue raised is the need for stricter rules on remote work availability, to undermine the misleading perception that colleagues are always online and available. 

The ATMO-ACCESS community appears ready to engage in the reduction of their emissions while ensuring that the project’s underlying goals can be efficiently met. 

We have therefore designed a GHG emissions monitoring tool that is now ready for use. We hope this will be the first step towards a low impact yet high quality research practice

Find more information on the carbon footprint assessment task here:

by Erica Zaja

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The European research community of atmospheric sciences has received 15 million euros from the H2020 programme of the European Commission, in order to promote access to its research infrastructures. The ATMO-ACCESS consortium (“Sustainable Access to Atmospheric Research Facilities”) gathers together 38 scientific institutions from 19 European countries of the atmospheric research infrastructures ACTRIS, ICOS et IAGOS, and is coordinated by the French National Research Centre (CNRS).