When planning for a low carbon or carbon neutral event, it’s helpful to keep in mind that much of the impact does not occur during the event itself, but before and after it in different forms. The transportation of attendees to and from an event is particularly impactful and air travel is the worst culprit in this regard. Therefore, you can greatly reduce an event’s overall carbon footprint by choosing a city and venue that is close to the majority of the attendees.
A simulation of a not so carbon neutral event:
I ran a simulation for a small conference of 80 attendees travelling from local, regional, national, and international origins. For the sake of comparison, I weighted each origin equally with 20 attendees each. The following is a simulated carbon footprint from their transportation to and from the destination city/venue:
To give you an idea of the impact that this represents, the average North American generates about 20 tons of CO2 each year. As you can see from this example, 99% of the carbon footprint of attendees travelling to and from this event is the result of air travel. Apart from offering attendees virtual forms of participation, this impact can otherwise be difficult mitigate.
That is why choosing a destination city that is close to the majority of attendees is the best way to reduce an event’s carbon footprint. In turn, making it a carbon neutral event will be more affordable because you will need to purchase fewer carbon offsets.