University of Queensland environmental scientists are trading travel for tweets in an effort to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and improve accessibility leading talks in a new conference.
The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) are holding an online-only environmental science conference hosted on Twitter on 22 May, where a dozen UQ researchers will present.
CEED’s Dr Matthew Holden said aviation was accountable for the burning of five million barrels of oil a day, or about 2.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Like many business people, environmental scientists travel to collaborate and to present their findings at scientific conferences,” he said.
“But our research shows that only four per cent of conferences in our global study offered options to offset carbon emissions, so moving some of these conferences to Twitter could have big environmental benefits.
“An international roundtrip flight can be equivalent to about two and a half years’ worth of driving – so removing the need to travel by hosting an online conference makes a lot of sense.
“This conference is ahead of the trend in international conferences. Science meetings are only a minuscule blip when it comes to global carbon footprint, but as environmental scientists we should lead by example to help get the public and corporations on board.”
CEED Director and Deputy Associate Dean Research at UQ’s Faculty of Science, Professor Kerrie Wilson, said the conference would also increase efficiency and improve equity of access.
"Not only does a virtual conference potentially save days of travel, but it also greatly improves accessibility,” Professor Wilson said.
“For the people who can’t afford the travel fare, couldn’t take the time off work, or have caring or parenting responsibilities, they can now all present or engage with the latest environmental research via our Twitter conference.”
The Twitter conference will be held on Tuesday 22 May, which is also International Day for Biological Diversity.
Dr Holden’s research is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.