An initiative by TU/e academics

We are a group of academics concerned about our carbon footprint. We would like to make some positive changes, starting with the way we travel for work. The good news is that we are not alone. Hundreds of academics from Dutch and other European universities are questioning their travel practices (see Klimaatbrief). We know that these concerns are shared by many of our colleagues, but we also feel a more systemic change is needed if we want to collectively reduce high carbon travel. Reflecting on our footprint as academics, we see international travelling for conferences and field work as inherent to our work, but at the same time an impactful practice of academic life. We have taken it upon ourselves to work towards solutions which we, our colleagues, and hopefully also you are willing to take part in.

A successful travel initiative depends on the support and actions of individual academics. This starts with awareness, but also requires practical assistance in making different travel choices. We are grateful for the support of our research group in developing this initiative and experiment. However, as we make these choices within the systems and policies of the university, support at this administrative level is also crucial. Therefore we are collaborating with internal affairs and the university’s Green Office.

In our search we follow the logic of ‘trias mobilica’, a model providing three rules of thumb: reduce carbon travel, travel more efficiently, and switch to more sustainable alternatives. These guiding principles help us make more sustainable travel choices and delineate the focal points of this low carbon travel imitative.

Our efforts aim to:

  • Promote a critical attitude towards international travel and reduce the number of trips.
  • Identify easy to reach destinations with low carbon modes within Europe.
  • Offer a travel planning procedure that integrates low carbon travel options.
  • Promote efficiency at research group level by e.g. encouraging to send smaller delegations to conferences.
  • Create administrative and financial support to overcome barriers to use low carbon travel options via e.g. compensation for increased travel time and cost.
  • Formulate university-wide policy document on international travel and its environmental impact.

Making a success of this initiative thus requires support of both you individually and the university administration. The coming months, we will work on these solutions, practice them within our group, and reflect on our experiences. We will reflect on the opportunities and constraints of these solutions, and what issues have to be addressed within the university. Over the course of this period, we envision to find suitable ways to reduce high carbon travel and rally wide support for this initiative within our university.

What can you do in the meantime?

We encourage you to personally reflect on your international conference and research travels, and start the discussion with your colleagues. You can share your reflections on our website where some colleagues have already shared their experience with sustainable travel choices.

Let us know what you or your group is doing to encourage low carbon travel.

You can also sign our petition:

In order to formulate a university-wide policy document on international travel and its environmental impact, we have to convince the Executive Board of the University that this cause is important for us as individuals, but also as a community. We intend to start a discussion with the members of the Board in order to convince them. We want to demonstrate that we

For this, we need the support of fellow colleagues. We created a petition that can testify to the numbers of our pro-environmental community. By signing the petition you can help us to demonstrate that a lot of us stand behind this initiative.

//we need to write something on what will happen with their data (will we show the whole list to the board, will we just indicate the number of ppl subscribed… etc + GDPR compliance!