söndag 23 februari 2020

The Frequent Flyer Academy (public talk)

Our talk was held at the Restaurant Lab which was basically full.

Me and Elina recently gave a talk at the monthly KTH Sustainability Pubnight. The theme for this particular pub was "The Frequent Flyer Academy: how can we limit plane travel?" We talked about recent results from our research project, "Decreased CO2-emissions in flight-intensive organizations: from data to practice" (a.k.a. "FLIGHT"). FLIGHT project member Jarmo Laaksolahti didn't talk but also attended the pub. Our colleagues (we recently wrote a research grant application together) Nina Wormbs (KTH) and Maria Wolrath Söderbergh (Södertörn) talked about a report they have written in their research project, "Grounded - Beyond Flygskam".

The pub was held at Restuaranglabbet [The Restaurant Lab] on the KTH Campus and we did not have access to a project/screen which forced us to rethink what we wanted to say and how. We made do with a flip chart and a poker marker "exhibit" which represented all the air trips at one specific KTH department during a 12-month period (see picture below).

The pub was well attended - the Restaurant Lab was pretty full and I was told that 60 persons or so had signed up beforehand. It was also fun that many friends and acquaintances came to listen! This is the our second public talk about this project, we also gave a talk at the Stockholm School of Economics (HHS) in the end of November and we will give at least one more talk later this term.

We kept our talk short to leave time for (many) questions and our talk consisted of three parts:
  1. Background to the project and a walkthrough of local KTH goals for decreasing CO2 emissions from air travel. Our chancellor has recently (December) decided that KTH should reduce its CO2 emissions from flying with 60% between 2020 and 2030. This corresponds to annual CO2 reductions by 9% per year ten years in a row!
  2. Analysis of what flying can look like at a KTH department with 30 emplyees and 95 flights during a 12-month period (see image below). What is very apparent is that the flying is very unevenly distributed at this (and other departments). Half the employees did not make a single trip while a small number of persons are responsible for a large proportion of the flights. The data would show and even more skewed picture if the number of trips (poker markers) were replaced by CO2 emissions since every black marker (an intercontinental trip) corresponds to almost six times the CO2 emissions of a red marker (a trip within Europe). A 9% decrease of CO2 emissions at this department (and based on exactly what particular trips this particular department made during this period) is equivalent to 18.5 red markers or 3 black markers.
  3. A flip chart exercise that ran through the implications of reducing CO2 emissions from air trips by three fifths in a decade - when we today hardly even know for what purpose each trip is made, who (what project etc.) pays for it or even who makes the trip when KTH pays for the upwards to 30% of all trips that are made by a non-KTH employees. If those "unknown" trips would remain at today's level, KTH researchers would instead have to decrease their trips by 80% in a ten-year period...
After the talk we talked to people who wanted to know more. One interesting person was a woman (from Greece but I don't remember her name) who works at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). They have a project of their own where they work on adapting a Carbon Travel Tracker that was developed at the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research. This chat also made me realize that there might be a larger "market" for the visualization tools we are developing at KTH (more to come on this). It could be that we should consider spending some time and effort in the project to disseminate these tools. 

All air trips made at one specific department during a 12-month period.

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