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Department of Informatics Informatics and Sustainability Research

Effects of Internet-Based Multiple-Site Conferences on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The paper on "Effects of Internet-Based Multiple-Site Conferences on Greenhouse Gas Emissions" by Vlad Coroama, Lorenz M. Hilty and Martin Birtel has been published (see DOI) in Telematics and Informatics.

There is a growing consensus that ICT can make an important contribution towards the reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, both by increasing the efficiency of existing processes, and by enabling substitution effects in an effort to implement more energy efficient paradigms in production and consumption. While, however, many studies based on theoretical reduction potentials have been presented, in practice, it has only been possible to cite a few examples of such reductions thus far. This paper presents the results of a first field experiment for one particular domain in which ICT can be substituted for more carbon-intensive technologies: using advanced videoconferencing technology to reduce intercontinental conference travel and thus travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. We organized a large resource management conference simultaneously on two continents and assessed the emissions caused by the attendees’ travel and by the Internet traffic and the additional equipment needed to connect the two venues. We further assessed, based on a survey, the emissions in the alternative scenarios of holding the conference at either one of the places, and the satisfaction of the participants with the two-site conference format. The results show that reductions of 37% and 50% in travel-related greenhouse gas emissions were attained as compared to the one-site alternatives, although more people took part than in any of these alternatives. At the same time, the attendees’ experience has been overwhelmingly positive, showing that the multiple-site paradigm can serve as an acceptable alternative to the traditional one-site paradigm of holding an international conference.