climatologists want to put an end to this contradiction

Passengers at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport. Photo of illustrations. (CHRISTOPHE MORIN / MAXPPP)

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It’s a bit of the sprinkler watered. A Swedish study looked at those who fly the most on the planet. 1% of the world’s population is responsible for half of civil aviation emissions, according to this work published in the journal Global Environmental Change. True, the coronavirus crisis has cut global air traffic in half. And this is an opportunity to review our travel priorities, believes Stefan Gossling from Lund University, Sweden, which conducted the study. He had previously leaned into another work on celebrity airplane travel from photos posted on their social media. He estimated that Bill Gates and Paris Hilton emitted 10,000 times more than the average person on the planet. Work that has not been published in a scientific journal.

A few “super-emitters” are making massive contributions to climate change.

Stefan Gossling, Lund University

à “The Guardian”

But it’s a other study surprise last month, that of a British research team which looked at air travel in the scientific world. Among the biggest travelers and therefore CO2 emitters, there are climate scientists. This team, to which the climatologist Corine Le Quéré (president of the Top climate advice) interviewed 1,400 of his colleagues from 59 countries in different disciplines. Climatologists fly on average five times a year compared to four for others. Older professors travel twice as much as their young research colleagues.

Here are the climatologists caught in full contradiction, since the IPCC has been studying for 40 years the sources of human CO2 emissions that are responsible for ultra-rapid warming, never seen in Earth’s history. He warns us that the plane represents few emissions for the moment: 2.5% (as much as a country like Germany). But given the strong growth in the sector, we must quickly find a way to fly without emitting as much, otherwise it will represent 22% of emissions in 2050.

But this study shows that climatologists also perceive more than their colleagues the ambiguity of their position: they are more aware of the impact of their displacement. They are therefore more likely than others to compensate for them, or even to give up a trip by plane: 30% of them, against 5% in their other disciplines.

The IPCC had regular meetings around the world: once in Europe, once in Asia, once in Africa … And their physical presence was required. And it now organizes a lot more video conferences. No question of giving up a mission in the Arctic or the Antarctic to see how the sea ice or the penguins are doing, but today, researchers participate much more in international conferences by video, and they manage to create the network of contacts which interest them all the same, in particular the young researchers. Moreover, ten of them have just developed a method called GES 1.5 so that laboratories, whatever the discipline, look at what pollutes the most in their activity, their building, their heating, their journey … so that research can also put itself on the path of 1.5 ° C of warming at the end of the century.

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