As a climate researcher, should I change my air-travel habits?

SOFIA E. KJELLMAN | May 27, 2019

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A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to some people about my work, and a friend of a friend called me a hypocrite. How can I, as a PhD student in climate science at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, justify flying, sometimes several times a month? It is true that I travel a lot through work, as do many of my colleagues. Many climate researchers advocate minimizing your carbon footprint1,2 knowing that air travel is an activity that contributes some of the highest emissions on an individual level3 (see also go.nature.com/2wgnrbw). At the same time, travel is an important part of our profession — we need to visit remote locations for fieldwork and to communicate science at conferences around the world. This double standard could affect our credibility as academics4. Do climate researchers have a responsibility to lead by example and to cut down on travelling?

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