Karin Ersson wants to reduce her carbon footprint and will travel by train to her Milan conference. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt2023-06-21
Trains reduce carbon footprint and are a harmonious way to travel
In February 2023, the Vice-Chancellor decided that Uppsala University should report on its work on environmental management. Our work on environmental management is submitted to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, which is a requirement of the Environmental Management in State Agencies Ordinance.
A number of points from the 2022 report were reported here in an article during the spring of 2023. Among these points, it was noted that the climate impact of business travel was 44 percent lower in 2022 than in 2019. The reason for this was the pandemic, of course, which led to us all travelling less than normal. But what will happen now? Will our employees stop considering the environment just because we can all travel again?
Karin Ersson, doctoral student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Department of Women's and Children's Health, also has a clinical role as a physiotherapist at Uppsala University Hospital. She is an example of an employee who is continuing to reflect on how she can reduce her carbon footprint. In autumn 2023 she will travel to a conference in Milan – but by train, not plane.
Which conference will you be attending?
“I’ll be attending a lung conference in September,” explains Ersson. “The European Respiratory Society, or ERS, organises an international conference every year. The conference is held in different locations each time, and this year will be in Milan between 9–13 September.
In total, between 20,000 and 25,000 delegates will take part.” Ersson is one participant who usually travels to this specific conference. During the pandemic, everything was held digitally.
How long will you be away?
“It will be one week including the travel days,” replies Ersson. “The journey down takes around a day and a half.”
But why have you chosen to travel by train – isn’t it quicker to fly?
“It’s a matter of the carbon footprint. That is the main driver for me,” notes Ersson. “And because there actually is the option to travel to Milan by train. It feels like a smooth and reasonable choice.”
The train journey takes longer than the flight, but Ersson notes that there are other time savings.
“I can skip security checks and transfers,” she explains. “And I also get the chance to work on the train. I’ve planned in some writing time during the journey for my research work.”
When registering, the participants were asked to specify their mode of travel to the conference.
“Ticking the train option gave me a little extra boost,” she adds. “ERS wants to highlight the global health aspects linked to the climate impact, with a special focus on air pollution relating to pulmonary disease. Not contributing to air pollution that can cause such pulmonary disease therefore feels right.”
Purely in terms of duration, Ersson has not travelled this far before. Don’t you regret your choice?
“Train travel feels more harmonious,” she replies.
Ersson will begin her journey on 7 September 2023. She has promised to write up a report with pictures about her trip here on the Staff Portal later in the autumn.