My pledges to help save our climate - explained.

Many of the people following me on twitter or mastodon will have already seen that i made a pledge to make no more than 1 intercontinental flight every 2 years, and to take no more flights within Europe.

Considering that science needs people meeting and exchanging thoughts, these drastic measures need some explanation. Below, I answer some questions that I was asked frequently after posting my pledges.

  1. Why the focus on air travel?
    To me mobility in general seems to be the one branch of industry that has seen very little progress with respect to total green house gas emissions, compared to manufacturing, power or heating. And air travel is actually still expanding its CO2 footprint at present. So the only consequence can be to drastically reduce the demand.
  2. Won’t you isolate yourself from colleagues?
    Well, I will still travel. In Europe I will take the comfortable and fast high speed trains, working without too many interruptions on the train to make use of the time. For overseas travel I plan to make the most of it by planning longer research stays instead of intercontinental conference hopping. Other than that I will simply do more video calls, as I have found these to be pretty effective for me. Last, there is always the possibility to travel by train within Europe to meet colleagues from overseas who happen to be in Europe anyway, thus making their stays more efficient.
  3. Why don’t you take a flight and then compensate the carbon emissions, e.g. via reforrestation projects?
    I think we do need the carbon capture by (massive) reforestation anyway to buy us some time in the despereate situation that we’re in. As a consequence, I am already donating to reforestation projects. As the capacity and the feasible rate of reforestation are limited I do not want to squander that budget to compensate my flights.
  4. Will you eventually lift your self-imposed flight ban?
    Well, I hope that one fine day we’ve found a means for Climate-neutral air travel, but I think this will be in the far future.
Written on September 30, 2019