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Green Travel and Sustainability at IELT20

Green Travel: Getting to InnovateELT 2020

At IELT 19, Dan Barber delivered a plenary, declaring that we are living through a climate emergency – and that the ELT industry had a responsibility to take action. 

We’re on board with Dan – and are also aware that conferences are not the greenest of things. Nevertheless, they do spark innovation and action. We truly believe that we can create more good in the world by holding this conference and that your ideas will lead to positive, sustainable changes in the industry. 

Dan has written this article about minimising your impact on the environment when coming to InnovateELT 2020. He explains his dilemma and gives us lots of great ways to reduce our carbon footprint when choosing public transport and coming from a long way away. 

Take it away Dan!

Minimising your impact on the environment when coming to InnovateELT 2020

When Innovate 2020 was announced on Twitter last month, trainer and EAP tutor Amy Blanchard, a long-time fan of the conference, responded immediately. She’d clearly read the blurb about the conference’s sustainability goal: 

“We don’t promise we’ll be perfect, we don’t promise we’ll be carbon neutral – but we’ll damn well try our best.” 

Her response will resonate for many of us:

Sustainability ELT

She’s absolutely right. Even a short-haul European flight generates more carbon dioxide than many people in Africa generate in a year. And it’s probably the costliest gesture we can make in a single day.  

But her dilemma mirrors so many of our daily personal and professional decisions, such as whether to drive or cycle, whether to cook or order out, whether to order that book online or do without. We are more aware than ever that all decisions as consumers are political and environmental ones. 

Frankly, it’s doing my head in. 

While we can complain that it’s pretty much impossible to live green in a consumerist society that denies us the freedom to opt-out of travelling, of packaging, of feeding the corporations, there are nevertheless things we can do to help, and we know it. 

Individual actions boost the chances of systemic change

Vliegschaamte or flight shame – is just one conscious-pricking emotion that keeps reminding us that most of the trips we make by plane aren’t essential. We don’t need to visit our friends in Berlin, we don’t need to go home at Christmas, and no, we don’t need to attend Innovate. 

It’s also true that in actual fact, individual actions can and do boost the chances of systemic change. Our decisions as climate crisis communicators, according to a recent study, add strength to the bigger arguments for top-down governmental and corporate change. Small gestures matter.

One responder to Amy’s tweet wrote: 

“For me, a big part of @InnovateELT is connection and the buzz you get from being surrounded by passionate, like-minded people. An online, carbon-friendly conference doesn’t give me that.” 

She concluded:

“Nobody’s perfect… Treat yo’self!” 

For the sake of the planet, should we deprive ourselves of valuable human experiences such as this? There are no easy answers because in the end, it comes down to you. 

One thing is for certain, there will be no flight shaming at Innovate 2020!

How to be greener when coming to the sixth InnovateELT conference

So you’re thinking of coming to Barcelona for the sixth InnovateELT conference? What are your options? 

If you’re flying from abroad…

Use a carbon calculator such as this one. Use the ‘Offset now’ button to discover your options for redressing the balance. 

Two points about offsetting; firstly the effectiveness of offsetting schemes depends on what your money is being used for.

Secondly, offsetting is a problematic concept because you’re still contributing to global heating and encouraging business as usual. 

But it’s certainly better than doing nothing, and taking offsetting into account when weighing up cost versus benefit gives you a much clearer picture of its true cost.

If you’re coming from Spain or southern France…

Consider one of these more environmentally friendly options:

  • Take the train, a cleaner way to travel, get some quality me-time, and remember the trains in Spain run mainly right as rain. We are trying to arrange a discount with Renfe for delegates to the event, and will keep you posted about this in the next few weeks. 
  • Share a car, either through a site like BlaBlaCar (I found this incredibly convenient once when I found myself stranded in Seville). Or, better, hook up with fellow Innovate delegates and create the Innovate-mobile!

If you’re local…

And if you live in Catalonia… well, you can revel in the thought that your local ELT conference happens to be one of the best ELT conferences there is! Just hop on the train, metro or your bike and feel glad you live where you do!

Wherever you’re coming from, we wish you the happiest of travels, and can’t wait to see you there!

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