EAIE: climate action on track by selecting rail

With more than 1,000 flights canceled ahead of a French air traffic control strike on the final day of the EAIE Conference in Barcelona, many delegates were left scrambling to make alternative itinerary.

The PIE spoke to a neighborhood of college professionals who had actually avoided the flight mayhem by participating in a motion to discover more environmentally sustainable ways to travel to international education market events.

The EAIE conference had a strong style of ecologically sustainability this year including totally meat complimentary catering for over 6,000 delegates, litter-picking sessions on the beach and a closing plenary from photographer Jimmy Nelson who spoke of the bond between Indigenous individuals and the natural world.

EAIE president Michelle Stewart also chose to acknowledge CANIE: Climate Action Network for International Educators with the yearly President’s Award. Climate action is a pushing problem for the sector and the EAIE is a signatory to the CANIE Accord, a set of principles and commitments that guide higher education organizations to decrease their carbon emissions, assistance advocacy, and foster climate literacy.

Guus Goorts, a college marketing specialist from The Netherlands who was attending the conference, decided to travel to Barcelona from his home in Breda by train instead of flying after finding out about the ‘travel with CANIE’ motion being supported by EAIE.

He changed his two-hour flight with a 24-hour journey including 4 trains, a transfer in Antwerp and a sleeper train from Paris to decrease his carbon footprint. He has been recording his journey on his blog and producing assistance by means of social networks.

“I’m not going to take the airplane if at all possible”

“It’s just a very little contribution, but by doing the right thing it can influence others, and that’s something that can grow out of control very quick and it appears a great deal of people feel the very same method,” Goorts told The PIE.

“I believed, I’m clearly going to have to travel here [to EAIE] and it struck me that I’m not going to take the aircraft if at all possible. Small modifications can amount to something more substantial. Every time you take this kind of little action, you move the balance. You make individuals believe.”

Guus was not alone in his undertaking. Scott Blair, director of accreditation and quality assurance for the American International Accreditation Association of Schools and Colleges, likewise made the journey from Paris to Barcelona by train, and discovered many other delegates on the exact same path.

“We started to walk through the train and had a register saying we were going to EAIE and this was the ‘travel with CANIE’ initiative. We were just asking everybody, who’s going to the conference? And it was amazing. Individuals were really spontaneous. They raised their hands right now and we told them we’re going to do a group picture on the platform when we leave the train in Barcelona,” remembered Blair.

Setting an example is necessary to the motion, rather than simply talking about environment action, he continued, stating “if we as Europeans can’t get to our conferences in Italy, Spain, Finland or Glasgow with the dense network of trains we have here [on the continent], across fairly little distances, reasonably wealthy areas, how can we expect Americans or the Chinese or the Russians or anybody else to travel sustainably?

“This is our social duty and it’s the right thing to do”

“This is our social obligation and it’s the best thing to do. And as we discovered, it’s really quite rejuvenating. We were collecting business cards and establishing conferences simply by virtue of the fact that we discovered other individuals [on the train] We saw the countryside pass and it was relaxing. It was actually among the more productive days for me, having this opportunity on the train.”

Rail travel is widely accepted as one of the most energy efficient kinds of transport. Taking the train instead of flying even brief distances can cut CO2 emissions by 90% per passenger and is up to five times more carbon efficient than driving. CANIE has actually been helping delegates compute their carbon footprint.

“French electrical energy is largely created by nuclear power,” discussed Blair. “So the more time you invest in the French train compared to, state, a German train, the carbon footprint is substantially various.”

The initiative was commemorated as a terrific success and mooted as ending up being a permanent and incentivised function of future conferences to encourage more environmentally-friendly travel.

Marianne Mensah, from the Climate Innovation Education Lab in France, explained a crucial part to behavioural change is building a community to discover like-minded people who can share their passion for environment action.

“CANIE developed a website where we could share our schedule, so that we could consider meeting, networking and changing the experience of nine hours of train into a satisfying, effective, efficient experience,” she said.

“I want to thank the EAIE president, Michelle Stuart for supporting environment action and truly advocating for environment action within the global education sector. She and her team have been incredible at making modifications in an extensive way, and I think it can be a source of inspiration for everyone international teachers.”

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