The Climate Changes and ECNP
According to the most recent April report, the UN finds that it is ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The rise in global net anthropogenic green-house emission comes mainly from fossil fuels and industry and, particularly in Europe, the political and economic situation now calls for a rapid conversion of fossil fuels to green, locally produced energy. This decision will need to be backed up with funding of a wide range of scientific research as well as with economic incentives to make it happen as fast as possible.
As a responsible organisation, ECNP also strives to reduce carbon emission associated with our activities. The ECNP Executive Committee established in the fall a Sustainability Task Force with the goal of identifying potential actions for climate neutrality and decarbonisation. The core areas of the College were reviewed by the Task Force with regard to possible measures at various levels of action. Corresponding scope for action of the ECNP was analysed and defined. The Task Force has presented a number of concrete options for action to the ECNP Executive Committee with the goal of a climate-neutral society by 2030, covering board and committee work, the congress and other events, publications, assets and the ECNP Office. Please allow me to take a moment to review the situation with travelling to and from the congress.
The plan is to develop interim goals for the congress and regularly communicate their achievements. It is a premise that the ECNP Congress will continue to take place in person, but we plan to continue to also offer the possibility of online attendance, as done in Lisbon last year. This is better environmentally and provides more flexibility for the participants. ECNP will also develop a culture of sustainability and choose the location of the congress with travel impact in mind. The next four years are, however, already assigned a location. We would like to encourage replacing flying with train travel. It is estimated that airline emissions make up about 2 per cent of total emissions. Flights are energy-intensive, depend on fossil fuels, and the airline industry has an unfair advantage over other transportation modes because it is subsidised from fuel taxes; that is, the low flight prices do not reflect their true environmental impact. Emissions from flights are released high in the atmosphere and remain there, which will warm the atmosphere for several centuries. Will new technologies make flying sustainable? Use of biofuels and electrification could help but because of battery weight, electrification currently only fits for flights under 1,500 kilometres. As part of the congress’s forward planning, we will carefully watch the evolution of the plan for a pan-European high-speed train system.
Let’s help each other to reduce carbon emission in every aspect of our lives. Personally, I bike to work almost every day and we recently replaced our old car with an electrical one – but totally avoiding flying has turned out to be almost impossible. ECNP secretary Suzanne Dickson and I will, for example, fly to Schiphol next month to meet in person with the ECNP office staff in Utrecht, and among other things, we will continue our discussions there about how ECNP can continue to go greener.
Gitte Moos Knudsen