WUR wants to curb flying

WUR staff fly too much
Photo: Shutterstock

And for destinations within Europe, they often take the plane unnecessarily. That has got to change, says the Executive Board in the new Mobility Vision 2030.

The number of flights taken by WUR staff, the kilometres flown, and with them the greenhouse gas emissions caused, have gone up in the past decade, whereas staff numbers have gone down. Between them, WUR staff now fly around the world about 1250 times a year.

Two percent

This must change, says the Mobility Vision. The Executive Board wants to cut COemissions from business trips and commuting by two per cent per year by 2030. And the main target here is flying, says policy officer Erna Maters (Facilities & Services, Corporate Social Responsibility). ‘You can only achieve a two per cent reduction in emissions by flying less.’

 You can only achieve a two per cent reduction in emissions by flying less. 

Erna Maters, Facilities & Services, Corporate Social Responsibility

Less flying within Europe, for instance. WUR’s travel policy states that staff should not fly to European cities which are easily reached by train, such as Brussels, Paris and Stuttgart. In practice, this is widely ignored, shows a survey by Facilities & Services. In 2017, more than 660,000 avoidable kilometres were flown within Europe. Hundreds of flights were taken to Paris and Stuttgart alone.

Flown distance per science group in 2017

Clarification: Science groups vary in size. SSG tops this list, partly due to the contribution of Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (CDI). In the conversion to COemissions, the fact that emissions vary with the kind of flight (regional, continental and intercontinental) was taken into account.

To curb flying within Europe, Maters suggests working with ‘green’ and ‘orange’ lists of cities – those for which train travel is compulsory, and those for which it is ‘preferable’. The University of Ghent already uses such lists, says Maters. ‘The Sustainable Mobility working group is working on arranging this as quickly as possible. It also needs to be made easier to book a train journey.’


But the COemissions from all those avoidable European flights are actually quite negligible: 200 tons. This would just about achieve the reduction target (2 per cent per year) for a single year. Further reduction will therefore have to come from cutting down on intercontinental flights, which account for about three quarters of the emissions. The Executive Board therefore wants to promote the use of tele- and videoconferencing.

You may also like:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to write a comment.