EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Traveling for academic research : patterns, determinants and mitigation options

Olivier Aumont1, Tamara Ben Ari2, Jérôme Mariette3, Laurent Jeanneau4, Aymeric Spiga5, Gaelle Lefort6, Philippe-e Roche7, Alexandre Santerne8, and André Estevez-Torres9
Olivier Aumont et al.
  • 1IPSL-LOCEAN, IRD-CNRS-MNHN-Sorbonne Univ., Paris, France
  • 2UMR Innovation, Univ Montpellier, INRAE, CIRAD, Institut Agro, Montpellier, France
  • 3Université de Toulouse, INRAE, UR MIAT, F-31320, Castanet-Tolosan, France
  • 4Univ. Rennes, CNRS, Geosciences Rennes – UMR 6118, 35000 Rennes, France
  • 5Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD/IPSL), Sorbonne Université, CNRS, École Polytechnique, École Normale Supérieure, France
  • 6CNRS, IFCE, INRAE, Université de Tours, PRC, 37380, Nouzilly, France
  • 7Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Institut NEEL - F-38042 Grenoble, France
  • 8Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, CNES, LAM, Marseille, France
  • 9Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Institut de Biologie Paris-Seine (IBPS), Laboratoire Jean Perrin (LJP), F-75005, Paris, France

In the midst of climate change, academic travels - one salient aspect of the carbon footprint of research activities - are at the center of a growing concern. Mitigation options often focus on two dimensions : (i) decreasing the frequency of attendance to conferences and (ii) modal shift in transport. Here, we analyze professional travel in academia from a unique database compiling about 100 000 travels from about 150 research labs across a large array of disciplines and localities in France to detail the structure, patterns and heterogeneity of national and international research travels for research purposes. We estimate the mitigation potential of a series of options encompassing but not limited to institutional options. We show that, if short distance traveling (typically below 1000 km) are largely dominant in number, their relative mitigation potential via modal shift is small (i.e., below 15%). On the other hand, long distance traveling, which is often associated with international collaborations or field work hold a much larger mitigation potential but question the very nature of research activities. We propose ambitious sobriety options to robustly decrease travel-induced GHG emissions in academia and discuss their acceptability in the context of the French public research system.

How to cite: Aumont, O., Ben Ari, T., Mariette, J., Jeanneau, L., Spiga, A., Lefort, G., Roche, P.-E., Santerne, A., and Estevez-Torres, A.: Traveling for academic research : patterns, determinants and mitigation options, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-11656,, 2023.