Videoconferencing for Climate Practice (guest post by Colin Marshall and Sinan Dogramaci)

The following is a guest post*  discussing the practice of making videoconferencing a regular component of academic conferences and the like, for the sake of the environment, by  Colin Marshall (UW Seattle) and Sinan Dogramaci (UT Austin).

It follows up on Professor Marshall’s previous post, “Flying Less, Videoconferencing More“.

Pete Mauney, time-lapse photograph of planes at night

Videoconferencing for Climate Practice
by Colin Marshall and Sinan Dogramaci

Fellow colloquia/conference/workshop organizers: please join us in adopting the Videoconferencing for Climate Practice!

The idea is simple. By using more videoconferencing, we can both reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and make the discipline more inclusive in a very cost-effective way.


Colloquium and events organizers who adopt the Practice aim to


  • Have a significant percentage (at least 15%) of talks and presentations be done remotely—in particular, through videoconferencing—instead of using air travel, and
  • Find additional ways to improve the climate impacts of our professional activities, especially at the institutional level (universities, professional associations, and governments). These include aiming for higher percentages of remote and local talks, institutional support for buying carbon offsets, institutional divestment from problematic industries, and finding ways to directly influence local and national governments.
A wide adoption of the Practice would have two effects: (1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thereby helping physical climate and (2) expanding the number of people who can participate in professional activities, improving social climate.


A more detailed explanation and justification for the practice can be found here.
There are a variety of ways an organizer can adopt the practice. One would be to include a line like the following in all invitations:
“We would be delighted to have you join us in person. We have also adopting the Videoconferencing for Climate Practice, however, and so would also would welcome you to present and discuss your work using videoconferencing technology.”


We are by no means alone in thinking that academics should move towards more videoconferencing (without, of course, replacing all in-person talks). See, for example:


Crucially, adopting the Practice is far from a complete response to the moral challenges relating to climate change and inclusiveness. For important clarifications, see again the longer description of the Practice.


Some organizers, departments, and associations might not find the Practice the right fit for them. If so, we hope they will develop and publicize their own climate-focused policies and practices.


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