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Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Academic Conferences by Online Participation: The Case of the 2020 Virtual European Consortium for Political Research General Conference

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2021

Sebastian Jäckle*
University of Freiburg


This article investigates the impact that the decision to switch an academic conference to an online event had on its carbon footprint. Using the example of the biggest European Political Science conference, the European Consortium for Political Research General Conference, it comprehensively estimates the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the virtual event and by the hypothetical case, if the event had taken place physically, including emissions from electricity usage, travel, heating, and catering. The carbon footprint of the virtual conference turned out to be between at least 97 and 200 times smaller than it would have been if the meeting had taken place in person. Hybrid conferences, particularly if those participants from far away join the event online, combined with the promotion of land-bound travel for those attending in person—even if this means longer travel times than flying—could be a feasible compromise to reduce emissions by almost 90%.

© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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