UBC Undergraduate Research

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Opportunities in Business Air Travel Project Garvie, Ian; Kazemian, Atlas; Sun, Erwin


This report is in response to the University of British Columbia’s Social Ecological Economic Development Studies’ project (SEEDS), which aims to reduce business air travel greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Due to the global impact of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures that have been implemented, business air travel nearly came to a stop, causing a drastic reduction in GHG emissions. The University of British Columbia (UBC) has taken this opportunity to introduce a new goal in their Climate Action Plan: the reduction of business air travel emissions, with policies informed by the COVID pandemic. The SEEDS program from UBC Campus and Community Planning is creating student-led projects to focus on this goal. This project is for the SEEDS aviation emissions reduction initiative. It will focus on studying the university’s business air travel data prior to the pandemic, while also observing the approaches used to mitigate and reduce physical interaction and thus in person events, during the pandemic. Thus, drawing lessons on how these approaches can be used to continue emission reductions after the pandemic. The team conducting this project has collected pre-pandemic flight information from UBC faculties to inform the design of a framework of a tool that can be used to assess different future policy scenarios. The team also considered faculty members who are frequent business air travelers, as they may be directly affected by the outcomes of this project. However, the team was unable to consult with these travelers due to the short project timeline. With the flight data collected, the team has designed a data collection tool that will be able to analyze average GHG emissions prior to and during the pandemic, as well as a scenario analysis tool that will use the collected data to assess various policies for reducing emissions in the future. The team members are all equipped with background experience related to GHG emissions reduction and carbon life cycle assessment, which further ensures the successful completion of this project. It is expected that by 25 June 2020, the team will have finalized policy recommendations for SEEDS that will help the university in successfully reducing their air travel GHG emissions after the pandemic has ended. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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