At ASSW 2022, in Tromsø (Norway), the IASC Council approved and welcomed the Report from the Action Group on Carbon Footprint (AGCF), which outlines concrete recommendations on how to reduce IASC’s carbon footprint. The full AGCF Report is available here (PDF).
The AGCF was convened in November 2020 to advise on concrete ways to reduce IASC’s carbon footprint. IASC has long recognised that global climate change is the result of anthropogenic activity. These changes have an intensified impact in the Arctic region, including destruction of plant and animal life, “loss of sea ice cover, glacier retreat and changing snow and permafrost conditions” (ICARP-III) in addition to a reduction in quality of life for Arctic communities. As the impacts of climate change become more widespread and tangible, it is becoming increasingly important for organisations like IASC to lead the way, demonstrating that it is possible to reduce environmental impact without reducing the quality of scientific activities and output.
IASC will proceed with consideration of the AGCF recommendations. Here below the list with the six general recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Create a position within IASC leadership tasked with further implementation and development of recommendations for carbon footprint reduction. A comprehensive, organisation-wide approach to the climate crisis is a long-term task that will require regular monitoring, structural changes, updates to strategy and implementation of policy. This could be either a member of the Executive Committee or Council, or an additional role within the IASC Secretariat or a small committee. Such a “sustainability manager” would be fundamental in applying recommendations outlined in this report and keeping environmental policy updated and on-track moving into the future.
Recommendation 2: Develop a long-term roadmap with tangible, measurable goals. It is recommended that this includes a pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 or earlier. This roadmap should include specific, measurable goals, encompassing strategies to minimise emissions, remove institutional barriers and raise awareness within the IASC community. An example of such a document from the University of Sheffield can be found here. It is recommended to include such a roadmap in the IASC Strategic Plan.
Recommendation 3: Carry out an annual assessment of IASC’s carbon footprint. This should include the systematic collection of anonymous travel data from ASSW and other conference participants (see 3.1). It is recommended that a more comprehensive overview of IASC’s current and ongoing emissions is carried out than that which is within the scope of this report, including the monitoring of committee meetings, funded activities and staff travel. In the long term, it would be beneficial to monitor emissions from infrastructure and other activities.
Recommendation 4: Agree to a travel policy for IASC events (e.g. meetings, workshops, ASSW) and Secretariat. It is strongly recommended that air travel is discouraged for shorter distances (for example 500 km or 8 hrs) where this is possible due to available alternative means of (public) transport. It is recommended that excess funding is made available for sustainable travel options (including compensation for additional work time), and that air travel for single-day meetings be discouraged when possible. Smaller meetings (short, or with a small number of participants) should be encouraged to take place online where possible or pooled at ASSW to minimise travel of participants. We recommend investigating opportunities for an internal carbon fund, which could fund sustainable travel. It is advisable to establish good communication about the planned action and to work together with the travel agency if one is used.
Recommendation 5: Develop opportunities and funding to encourage sustainable research and activities. Recommendations include a sustainability award for people or projects that are leading the way with significant achievements, ring-fencing a proportion of working group funding for sustainability-focused projects, and encouraging all funding applications to outline ways in which the project’s carbon footprint will be minimised. Continued international collaboration and exchange of existing strategies is advised and the sharing of data further encouraged. We recommend that all projects seeking IASC funding include a strategy on how they will minimise carbon footprint within their project proposal.
Recommendation 6: Where carbon emissions cannot be eliminated, use carbon offsetting schemes that comply with internationally recognised standards. Leading carbon offset standards include the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Trusted organisations like myclimate.ch, or atmosfair conform to these standards. Local, verifiable and high-quality projects should be preferred, e.g. Iceland Carbon Fund. It is recommended that carbon offsetting should be considered as a last resort, with other measures to reduce emissions explored first and implemented if possible.
Download the full AGCF Report here (PDF).