A collective effort to reduce flying in academia

· by GIUZ Airmiles Group · in Campus, Sustainability

We are very happy that we have received the prestigious UZH Team Effort Award. This recognises our work to reduce airmiles emissions in research at UZH. Through our collective efforts since 2017, we have compiled and analysed work-related air travel data at GIUZ, gathered valuable best practice examples and raised awareness of this crucial issue within our department.

Being recognised for our pioneering role in this area underlines the importance of continued focus on how to curb air travel-related emissions in research and academia. As a team, we are proud to be contributing to a low-flying future.

“I was very happy that I could contribute to fact-based discussions towards better science with less flying at UZH,” says Michael Zemp, who initiated this working group and is convinced, that a reduction in air travel among the scientific community is inevitable.

"By collecting airmiles data from expense and credit card invoices to get more facts about our impact on CO2 emissions, I enjoyed contributing to a step in the right direction," says Rita Ott, who collected the data along with all the secretarial staff.

"I was thrilled to supervise an MSc thesis exploring business air travel at GIUZ bridging my involvement in the airmiles monitoring group with my research in spatial data science,” says Peter Ranacher, who co-developed the concept for airmiles monitoring and reporting.

"I joined the group with the intent of changing how we think about flying in academia. I have learned a lot along the way, most importantly that the shift towards low-flying academia should center transparency, inclusivity and justice," says Isabel Hagen, who co-organized a workshop at the department.

"I am proud that we were able to give everyone - PhDs, employees, professors, and also students - the opportunity to share their thoughts on this process. Discussion between all different parts of the depart­ment gave us diverse per­spectives, which was very valuable,” says Ana Nap, who presented the GIUZ airmiles work at different occasions and co-organized the GIUZ workshop.

"The pioneering role of the GIUZ airmiles group has been acknowledged beyond our department, which is very motivating and showed the impact we can have with our work for a more sustainable and just UZH,” says Annina Michel, who is part of the Sustainability Committee of the Faculty of Science.

"It was an inspiring bottom-up process with lots of interaction among GIUZ staff from different backgrounds. I enjoyed the exchange with interested people from MNF, UZH and other institutions,” says Roger Keller, who co-coordinated activities within the airmiles group and the GIUZ Sustainability Task Force.

"All this was only possible with good communication, both within the department and beyond," says Magdalena Seebauer, who helped keep the ball rolling between the parties involved and get all the communication activities off the ground.

Images: Ethan Welty, Isabel Hagen

About the UZH Team Effort Award
In addition to awards for academic achievements, UZH also presents the Team Effort Award to acknowledge outstanding commitment by members of its staff or students. This award aims to draw attention to work done behind the scenes, which in many cases can enrich the University or society in exceptional and welcome ways. It is a means for UZH to express gratitude for work done by the staff and students. The award comes with prize money of CHF 5,000 and was presented for the first time at the 2019 Dies academicus.
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About the GIUZ Airmiles Group
The group received the award for «its pioneering role in reducing air miles emissions in research at UZH». The Airmiles Group is part of the GIUZ Sustainability Task Force and has been monitoring and documenting work-related air travel at GIUZ since 2017. Additionally, the group collects best practice examples and raises awareness of an issue that is also very important from a university-wide perspective.
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