Astronomers take actions to raise awareness on climate change

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The Nature Astronomy journal has published, this Thursday, 10th of September, a series of articles written by astronomers about the link between astronomical research and the climate crisis.

This issue¹ highlights the need for urgent actions from all parts of society, including astronomers who, according to the articles, have a higher impact than the average citizen. Our environmental impact has been a major concern for the X-IFU Consortium over the past year (see our article on World Environment Day).

X-IFU’s Principal Investigator, Didier Barret, is co-author of an article focusing on the carbon footprint of large astronomy meetings. This topic is at the core of our commitments as we have decided in 2019 to reduce the number of physical meetings for X-IFU related activities. A move that was sped up due to the current pandemic.

The Nature Astronomy article compares two annual meetings of the European Astronomical Society, one held in Lyon in 2019 and the other held virtually in 2020. The participants’ travel footprint to join the meeting was estimated thanks to Didier Barret’s online travel footprint calculator². For the 2020 virtual edition, the authors evaluated the electrical consumption of both the organisers and the participants.

The results are self-evident:

  • 1,855t CO2-eq in 2019 (for 1,240 attendees in Lyon)
  • 588kg CO2-eq in 2020 (for 1,777 virtual participants)

The writers also offer some thoughts and insights regarding the organisation of future large meetings while continuing to reduce astronomers’ carbon footprint. This paper clearly shows that it is important for astronomers to take actions and we will continue our efforts in the right direction with the X-IFU Consortium.

Other articles from this issue focus on several typical activities of astronomers that result in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as on the impact of the climate crisis on astronomical research.

All articles are available at:

¹ Nature Astronomy, Volume 4, Issue 9

² Barret, 2020, Experimental Astronomy, Volume 49, Issue 3, p.183-216

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