Sunday, March 18, 2018



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I noticed another discussion on Twitter about whether or not climate scientists should fly. I have written about this before and the issue of people making personal sacrifices is something I’ve pondered recently. I have a great deal of respect for those who’ve decided to forgo something like flying in order to reduce their personal carbon footprints. However, I don’t think this should be expected of climate scientists, in general, simply because their research happens to be highlighting the risks associated with continuing to emit CO2 into the atmosphere. I would add, though, that those who actively advocate for changes in our lifestyles should practice what they preach.
 It is therefore important to think about emissions from air travel...
A single long-haul flight could be 10% of someone’s annual emissions. So, if someone wanted to reduce their personal emissions, flying less can have a big impact. Similarly, it is one of the most carbon intensive forms of transport. If it is possible to travel via bus, train, or even car, emissions will probably be lower than if travelling by air. I certainly now think much more about how I should travel than I used to; if I can catch the train, rather than flying, I try very hard to do so...
All well and bien pensant, but buses, trains, and even cars  can't cross oceans  to get to international climate conferences as far flung as Bali or  Brazil with the fossil fuel  efficiency of  ships,  which have vastly smaller carbon footprints per pasenger mile.
Which led to this exchange of  comments:
  1. The sheer scale and global dispersion of IPCC & COP meetings should compel the carbon offset seeking classes to cut the international climate conference circuit;s carbon footprint by chartering a few large ocean liners and turning it into a global regatta , pausing every few weeks to embark and discharge working group members on their home continents 
    With high occupancy guaranteed , the per diem cost might, if anything, go down slightly.
  2. BBD says:
    But marine bunker is truly filthy stuff, Russell.

  3. entropicman says:
    There are practical limitations.
    A glaciologist commuting between the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge UK and Hadley in Antarctica without flying would spend their whole time in transit.
  4. Willard says:
    > But marine bunker is truly filthy stuff
    How so?
    I thought Russell’s idea was brilliant. My father-in-law is a cruise convert, and holding conferences there could be awesome sauce.
  5. While flying accounts for 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions, that 2% is produced by the fewer than 18% of the global population who fly. So, given flying’s necessary reliance on fossil fuels, the likely growth in those emissions will be hugely significant. Thus the symbolism attached to flying less cannot be understated.
  6. BBD, marine bunker is merely the leftovers from distilling off petrol and jet fuel, and vastly less of it is burned per shipboard passenger mile that jet-setting as usual.
    I would however be overjoyed if the Virgin Climate Cruise Line comissioned a fleet of these splendid vessels
    to reduce conference transport fossil fuel consumption even further
    If working groups of more that 200 are required, we can lean on Virgin’s sainted proprietor to bring back seven masted schooners .