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By Mariah Heinzerling
APS recently took steps to help curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by offering members an opportunity to mitigate their carbon footprint by making a donation to an environmental organization of their choice.
In November 2018, APS unveiled the pilot campaign by providing Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) members the ability to mitigate the effect of their travel to and from the DFD annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Rather than promoting the purchase of carbon offsets, which have often been criticized as being insubstantial, the Society provided members with an estimate of their carbon footprint from traveling to and from the meeting and provided options for donation.
APS calculated a suggested donation amount using an estimate of the average travel-related GHG emissions per person and the social cost of carbon as published by the Interagency Working Group, an organization of federal regulatory agencies charged with determining the social cost of GHGs.
“DFD is proud to be the first APS division to offer this step toward mitigating the carbon footprint from Society activities. As members of a scientific society, it is our responsibility to support APS in continually implementing forward-thinking strategies in the critical fight against climate change,” said Eckart Meiburg, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara and 2018 chair of DFD.
For those without a preferred organization, APS suggested directing donations to the Clean Energy Trust (CET). The Trust is a nonprofit clean technology accelerator focused on bringing scientific and technological advances to market that change how the world generates, consumes, and reuses energy and natural resources. CET is a 501c3 public charity, and donations are tax deductible. By donating to CET, DFD meeting attendees supported an investment in entrepreneurs who are working to commercialize clean technology startups, reduce GHG emissions, and mitigate the risks of climate change.
The DFD effort follows APS’s recent release of its Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, an analysis of the Society’s day-to-day operations and select activities that contribute to its carbon footprint. Member travel to and from annual meetings was the second-largest GHG contributor detailed in the inventory.
DFD members who registered for the 2018 meeting received information about the pilot ahead of their travel and were notified throughout the meeting about participating in the campaign. APS also launched a social media campaign to inform members.
CET has received several donations from APS members, and another organization reached out to APS expressing interest in being involved with future iterations of the campaign. During upcoming meetings, APS will improve upon the model tested at the DFD meeting and aims to make the donation option available earlier in the registration cycle.
“APS will continue running this donation campaign at our largest national meetings. By working with CET and potentially other organizations going forward, we hope to make APS meetings beneficial not only to the physics community but also the environment as a whole,” said Mark Elsesser, manager of science policy at the APS Office of Government Affairs.
The author is a Science Policy Intern in the APS Office of Government Affairs.
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