The European Magnetic Association (EMA) is concerned with climate change. The Association feels responsible for its own impact on climate change, and is committed to reduce the carbon footprint of its events (conferences, schools…), as well as to raise awareness and provide assistance in the Magnetism community to reach the same at all levels.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains a major challenge and we are concerned by global warming, the harmful effects of which are becoming more and more evident every day on both individuals and societies. The phenomenon is now scientifically documented and clearly linked to human emissions of carbon equivalents. We believe that no one can ignore this fact, and that everyone must now evaluate all actions possible to rapidly and significantly reduce their carbon footprint, whether as individuals or through collective action. At EMA, we would like to look at what we can do about our own professional footprint.
A number of assessments indicate that the average per capita footprint of a researcher is equivalent to or greater than an individual footprint, i.e., 10 to 20 equivalent tons per year. While we can argue that our research should not be cut because its results can help to reduce the world's footprint as a whole through the development of greener technologies, we can ask ourselves whether we could achieve our goals just as well with a smaller footprint.
What can we do as individual researchers? Actions are relevant both in the laboratory and on trips, which represent the two largest shares of our impact. Actions in the laboratory could include the rational use of buildings, the energy efficiency of their power supply and heating/air conditioning, equipment renewal policies, etc. As these actions often depend on collective and institutional policies, our responsibility here is to motivate the reviewing and revision of these policies. Action on travel is largely in our own hands. We must ask ourselves about the impact of attending every given meeting, and consider new strategies for dissemination, learning and networking. If networking is crucial to our activities, we should review how often we need to attend events to achieve the bulk of the impact, meet more often on a regional basis, travel more by train or favour direct flights over multiple flights when air travel cannot be avoided.
The European Magnetism Association is encouraging a series a measures for events organized by the EMA, such as the Joint European Magnetic Symposia, JEMS, and the European School on Magnetism, ESM, as well as those supported by a technical sponsorship. In evaluating bids for the organization, we take into account criteria, such as the venue (Can it be reached with a moderate carbon footprint?), the premises (Is it of adequate size? Can an academic venue be used?) and practical organization (considering heat, waste, food and goody bags/giveaways). We also conduct post-event evaluations. Organizers of events not related to the EMA may freely get inspiration from these guidelines.
Organizers should consider actions that can create immediate and practical gain, such as to limit waste, the emission of greenhouse gas (GHG) induced by the event, and the use of resources on-site. This can be sought by identifying the sources of waste and emissions, proposing measures to address them, and monitoring the outcome for each event, as well as progress on the long run. The document Guidelines for Sustainable Events gathers practical recommendations.