Carleton Travel Strategy Proposal

(June 2017 version)

Carleton Climate Commons Working Group[*]

Foreword: Limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Carleton University acknowledges its share of global emissions, particularly from emissions related to flying to conferences and meetings (one international flight is equivalent to a typical person’s annual carbon emissions from all other sources). While travelling helps advance research, options are available to limit travel emissions by reducing the distance travelled, switching travel modes, and using alternative modes of communications. The Strategy under development aims to help individual researchers and Carleton as a whole to reduce its emissions over time.

This page aims to provide a strategic frame for reducing the travel emissions of researchers at Carleton. It includes (I) some General Principles (II) a Code of Conduct to support a change of mentality around research travelling, (III) a ‘Decision tree’ to help make decisions at the moment of travel, and (IV) a way to justify your travel emissions by ranking different types of travel.


This strategy has been adapted from the Tyndall Centre Travel Strategy.

John Vidal discusses other strategies to limit flying and changing attitudes towards travel in “Why I only take one holiday flight a year”, while Sara Peach gives advice for those feeling guilt about flying by focusing on legislative alternatives in “I feel guilty about flying, but I have a sick relative and a wedding coming up. Help!”.

If you really need to fly…

  1. Choose a direct flight.
  2. Check the efficiency of the Airline here.

Taken from the 2018 atmosfair Airline Index.

[*] The Climate Commons is working on having Carleton adopt this proposal (Spring 2017). In the meantime, the information is here for people to consult. Air travel is not yet taken into consideration in the April 2013 in the Facilities Management and Planning strategic plan:  A strategic Plan for Embedding Sustainability in Carleton University Operations:, although there is a commitment there to: “Develop a Climate  Action Plan by June 2015 with clear, real targets for reduction. Climate change is  arguably  one  of  the  largest  global  threats  to the  environment  and  humankind. While  planning for energy  conservation and  establishing other general sustainability targets, a  comprehensive carbon reduction plan should be created.”

The Carleton sustainability website ( ) also indicates that “In 2014 Carleton used a total of 88,748 MWh and reduced consumption by 2,294 MWh (2.6%) through program initiatives.” While this suggests that Carleton is actually tracking total energy use (and thus greenhouse gas emissions) across Carleton as a whole, it remains unclear if all travel and air travel are included. In fact, air travel may be increasing, thus negating the reductions.