New Project to Explore Climate Sustainability in the Academic System

ALLEA, together with its member the German Young Academy (Die Junge Akademie), is starting a new project on the climate sustainability of science. The initiative will review the existing knowledge, experiences and data regarding how academia can support the mitigation of greenhouse gases with changes of its working modes, for instance on academic travel-culture.

The disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged a re-thinking of working modes and practices across all sectors, including academia. This project takes this opportunity to deepen the discussion and develop a deliberated and balanced path towards a sustainable academic system.

Attending international scientific conferences and on-site international collaboration have been major drivers of research in the past decades. Now, reducing the carbon footprint through digital exchanges and finding alternatives to emission-intensive transportation could help make academia more sustainable. At the same time, a co-benefit of digital exchanges may well be an increased international participation.

The project aims at developing a proposal that supports the transformation of academia to meet the challenge of climate sustainability without compromising on excellence in research and without diminishing international exchange and collaboration in academia.

ALLEA and the Die Junge Akademie are now in the process of gathering a European group of high-level experts with a multi-disciplinary, generational, gender and geographical balance. The selection criteria seek to encompass a wide and representative set of views within the scientific community.

In the coming months, the group will review existing findings that investigate sources of emissions in academia, collect and assess best-practice examples to reduce emissions and explore potential co-benefits arising from the implementation of changes.