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Key Objective: 4.1 Reduce Air Travel Emissions

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 4, objective 1, is "Reduce air travel emissions from a new FY14 baseline by 25% by FY20, 50% by FY25, and 100% by FY30."

Associated Metric

4.1 Percent reduction from air travel baseline FY14 (Tracked by Fiscal Year)

Potential Strategies

The campus mission often relies upon in-person visits to other towns, states, and countries.  The most time-efficient travel mode is often air travel, and it is difficult to imagine that university faculty, staff, and students could eliminate air travel entirely.  International conferences, research, and study abroad have important impacts on our campus’s missions of scholarship, teaching, and service, including in the area of sustainability.  However, there are certainly some situations when a plane trip can be replaced with a train trip or a video conference, without sacrificing the impact of efforts to support the university’s mission. 

To encourage a reduction in air travel, the campus could implement a program to provide incentives for departments that reduce their annual air travel emissions.  The program would include a method to track annual airline travel emission estimates per department, and an annual report of the per capita airline travel emission estimates and the total estimate for the campus.  Additional information regarding the reason for travel and the source of funding could be collected though the Travel and Expense Management (TEM) system. The program would also educate the campus community on the alternatives to air travel, such as trains and video conferencing.  Additionally, campus could improve the infrastructure supporting online conferencing and other virtual meeting technology.

For the remaining GHG emissions associated with air travel, campus could purchase offsets, as described in Chapter 8.  The amount of offsets to purchase could be incrementally increased over time such that air travel emissions would be reduced by 25% from the FY14 value[1] in FY20, 50% in FY25, and 100% in FY30.

[1] The implementation of the Travel and Expense Management (TEM) tracking system in FY14 uncovered the fact that our previous air travel emissions, as calculated from FY08 to FY13, underestimated the total air travel emissions from our campus.