Carbon Neutral Devoxx UK: Time to Change

Wales Trees River England Stones

It is early September. The rainforest is on fire, apocalypse anxiety is part of the global zeitgeist and we’re slowly waking up to the fact that we are tacitly complicit in our ignorance. Many of us who lauded Greta Thunberg, who has just stormed New York, have shockingly realised ourselves to be the adults that should and are being shamed for climate change inaction.

At Devoxx UK we have decided to stop feeling bad and start doing things. Our plan is to see what we can do to mitigate the effects of the conference on the environment as soon as possible, and the steps we need to take to make it carbon neutral.

In the grand scheme of things, this is small fry: the UK accounts for 1% of global CO2 emissions (compared to Russia, 5%, India, 7%, the US, 16%, and China, a shocking 29%)1. Devoxx UK is surely globally inconsequential. 

Except it’s not. 49.9% of attendees to Devoxx UK  in 2019 have office addresses outside the UK. 40.8% are in mainland Europe. Many of those attendees will have to fly, or make long land journeys across Europe. 9.1% are from Asia, the Americas, the Middle East or Africa2.  Global aviation generates nearly as much CO2 annually as that from all human activities in Africa3. One return flight generates more CO2 than citizens of some countries produce in a year. And Devoxx UK is not the biggest or most global tech conference. Devoxx UK is a pebble on the beach, but it counts.

It counts, it contributes to the problem, and we can change that. And if we can change it, so can other tech conferences. And if other tech conferences can… why stop there. A simple solution is to stop having tech conferences. A more elegant solution is to evolve and adapt to a carbon neutral philosophy: everything counts, and if we can mitigate the effects, we have a moral obligation to do so. 

1 https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html

2 https://friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/aviation_climate_change.pdf

3 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/jul/19/carbon-calculator-how-taking-one-flight-emits-as-much-as-many-people-do-in-a-year

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