Create your own carbon-neutral conference in a few clicks

Create your own carbon-neutral conference in a few clicks

You are an academic and want to share your research with your peers without impacting climate change? We will see together how this is possible.


First of all, you may ask yourself whether it is better to organize the conference virtually or in person. The answer is now obvious. Virtual conferences emit more than 1000 times less CO2 than face-to-face conferences, where people meet in person in places that are often far away from their homes. And let us not speak about the inconvenience that this implies such as jet lag, aeroplane, family distance, ... We will present here recent calculations comparing the emissions between a face-to-face conference and the same one organized in virtual.
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You may wonder if the virtual experience will be up to the task about the exchanges that can occur in the usual conferences. Because of covid-19, virtual conferences have been tested thoroughly recently. As a researcher myself, I was able to present my work in this new type of online conference. I have noticed that asynchronous conferences, where people pre-record their speeches before the conference starts, do not work as dynamically as face-to-face conferences. But, virtual conferences where everything happens live allow for high-level interactions. It includes chat, slack-type exchanges, or even live oral interventions. This is surprisingly effective. Many new tools are now being developed to make the experience even more attractive and interactive.

Creating a virtual conference is now child’s play and it has nothing to do with the complexity of organizing face-to-face conferences. Rather than going through external companies, you can now create everything in a few clicks. This is best done with the new CarbonFreeConf platform for the moment unique. Fill in a few simple fields such as the subject of your conference, the number of participants, its duration, … and you then have a website that is automatically created for your conference.  People who wish to take part in the meeting can come and register. You then have access to an administration panel where you can manage the abstracts you receive (e.g. accept participation, offer a poster instead of a talk, …). You can also send emails to participants, manage your program (in drag and drop mode), and much more. There is also the possibility to create chat rooms to engage in discussion on specific topics. You can create as many chat rooms as you want. CarbonFreeConf also manages posters that can be viewed on any type of devices, upvoted. There is a dedicated chat or one-to-one call area that can be used for posters. The tools are numerous (e.g. participants can pre-record their talks if needed or upload their slides so that they don’t waste time on the big day) and it feels like a real in-person conference.

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The icing on the cake is that CarbonFreeConf is committed to offsetting the carbon emissions of virtual conferences. Indeed, albeit low, they are not zero. They use a proven direct air CO2 capture company (Climeworks). It allows them to offset exactly the CO2 cost of the conference. They have a dedicated calculator to see the number of kg of CO2 equivalent emitted for a given conference (see here). The cost of the offset can be shared across all conference participants. Once again, CarbonFreeConf takes care of collecting the payments from the participants and gives you the surplus if there is one.

Everything happens live, on a virtual platform that has now been proven reliable (BigMarker). It is ideal for conferences (screen sharing, document upload, chat, poll, Q&A, virtual board, camera, …). All participants can pre-test the platform in advance so that they are not caught off guard during their presentation.

While the world is confined, and even after that, I predict that this type of carbon-free conference will become the norm. Indeed, I bet on the advantages it gives thanks to digital technology. And especially thanks to academics’ awareness of their carbon footprint. If you want to forge your own opinion, you can test CarbonFreeConf for free.  When you create your conference, the free version includes access to all the tools. You can then add other organizers who will have the same rights as you. Then start conversing on the platform (via the virtual conference room or chat) to select your participants. You can cancel or delete your conference at any time at no charge. If you want your conference to take place, you will just need to make the carbon offset payment before it starts.

Comments(1)

manon
manon8 months ago

Thank you for your article. I think the concept is very interesting!

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