Should climate scientists give up flying?


Globally, air travel accounts for 2.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. If air travel were a country, it would be roughly on par with Germany in emissions. And if air travel by climate scientists were a city, it would be a one-stoplight outpost.

In other words, climate scientists curtailing their air travel would make a microscopic dent in reducing emissions, but a new paper argues they should do it anyway, because their influence goes far beyond numbers.

“It’s a credibility issue,” Corinne Le Quéré, a researcher at the Tyndall Center, said in an interview via Skype. “We’re trying to support a change in culture.”

Le Quéré, who authored a recent paper on decarbonizing climate research, starting with flying, said most climate scientists are acutely aware of their carbon footprint but that flying has become part of their routine, particularly for criss-crossing the globe in connecting with colleagues at…

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