Calculating the environmental benefits of virtual vs physical events

While Climate Exp0 was always planned as a virtual conference, the growing popularity of online events and their perceived environmental benefits prompted us to determine the true carbon footprint of virtual vs physical events. Using Climate Exp0 as a model, and like-for-like conditions for a hypothetical in-person conference, our analysis found that by running Climate Exp0 virtually, the potential impact was reduced by an estimated 581,835 kgCO2e, or 228 kgCO2e per attendee, over the course of the week, equating to a savings of around 85%. The most significant emission differential was derived from the transport sector, where attendees of an in-person event contributed 96% more CO2 e emissions as a result of travelling to and from the event. Given that moving all conferences online is not always a practical or productive option, we have also concluded that by following best-practice principles, it is possible to reduce emissions from physical conferences by up to an estimated 38%. 

For more information on the methodology and assumptions behind the analysis, and key findings of the study, please see the full report above: “Carbon Footprint Comparison Report”. The data used to inform the analysis can also be found in the tracker report above.