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Climate measures  Geneva university to slash flight emissions by half 

Passengers at airport

Air travel is a major source of CO2 emissions, including for universities.


The University of Geneva has pledged to cut its CO2 emissions from air travel by half by 2030. The seat of learning says it wants to do its bit to meet ambitious carbon-reducing targets set by the Swiss government. 

University staff take around 4,000 flights per year to attend conferences and meetings. This will be tackled with several measures to cut down on air travel. 

This includes ramping up video conferencing facilities and embarking on a mission to inform staff about the environmental impact of their travel. Journeys of under four hours will be taken by train if possible while business class flights to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and north Africa will be banned. 

From this month, the university will start to closely monitor its energy consumption. It will also set up a system of compensating CO2 emissions of unavoidable plane travel. 

“The academic world plays a crucial role in addressing the major environmental challenges of this century,” said the university’s Rector Yves Flückiger. “But it must also question its own operations and some of its practices, which is the purpose of the policy we are implementing.” 

Jean-Marc Triscone, Vice-Rector in charge of sustainable development objectives, said the university had taken note of numerous climate marches in Switzerland and around the world. “Air travel accounts for about half of the CO2 emissions of a major university, and our ability to act in this area in an impactful way is decisive,” he stated. 

Last month, the Swiss government tightened up its already ambitious climate targets. Switzerland plans to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, thereby becoming climate neutral. In 2016 the government had signalled a long-term aim of reducing Switzerland’s carbon emissions by 70-85% by 2050.

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