CLIMAFIX Summit 2022 – How well did the event do on fixing carbon?
How easy is it to do a low carbon event? Unless you wish to go the offset way (a sweet idea that enables guilt-free carbon sinning), it can be quite difficult.
We tried to make CLIMAFIX Summit 2022 as low carbon as possible, with more direct interventions.
Here are some things we did reasonably well.
𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐝 – The entire menu was vegetarian. That alone should have reduced the carbon footprint a decent bit. We also tried to minimize food waste by arriving at good estimates on number of people to be provided to the caterers (our estimates turned out fairly accurate and almost no food was wasted both days). In addition, we requested at least one dish where rice was replaced by millets (a lower carbon crop) and both days, the porridge was made of millets & not rice. The last one is just a token effort, but at least made a start.
𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐬 – We decided to digitize all things plastics that could be digitized – flex backdrop (digital backdrop), standees (TV promos), plastic folders (no need as support content was digitized). But the real beasts were plastic water bottles – we did away with them with paper plus bioplastic cups, not a very satisfactory substitution as the credentials of such bioplastics are highly questionable, and by having a laminate, we had made them non-recyclable.
𝐏𝐚𝐩𝐞𝐫 – We decided to cut down heavily on paper. No brochures, no physical agenda sheets. The only paper stuff were the notebooks we gave. Even the notebooks, we decided on the number of pages such that the least number of pages would go unwritten in each. I’m happy with the work we did with paper.
Some of the challenges we faced and gaps:
1. Plastics use for water – difficult to get rid of plastics from the water ecosystem unless everyone agrees to drink from metal or glass cups.
2. Energy – the elephant in the room (possibly emitting much more carbon than all others combined) but we had little control over this. While IITMRP is one of the more energy efficient buildings in Chennai, I found some delegates saying it was too cold inside.
3. Elevators – It was almost impossible to locate the stairs at IITMRP so I ended up using elevators – up and down. (Yes, I’m the weirdo who climbs stairs upto 10 floors)
4. Travel – we had no control over the amount of travel almost 500 delegates made, with many of them flying down 1000+ Kms. And that brings me to the ultimate challenge.
5. Why a physical summit? – You would be quite justified if you accused me of fundamental deception – why bother about all these when I could have done the event virtual & dramatically crashed carbon emissions? Why indeed? I’d like your inputs on this
My take overall on how well we did on making the event low carbon? 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐛𝐚𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐚 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨
How can we make CLIMAFIX 2023 lower carbon? Your thoughts are welcome
See my LinkedIn post on this topic