Businesses urged to think green before returning to conferences

If businesses revert to pre-pandemic ways of working, they may risk increasing their carbon footprint.

Research from digital coaching provider Ezra found UK businesses can reduce their carbon footprint by 95% if they continue attending conferences virtually post-pandemic.

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According to its new report Businesses Waste, across the UK, the average person attending a conference for just a single day emits as much as 145 kg of carbon dioxide, accounting for travel and electricity usage.

For a one day conference of 1,000 people, that's 145,000 kg of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of driving 364,414 miles or charging 17,638,184 smartphones.

Switching to a virtual conference cuts carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 95%, to just 682 kg for 1,000 people, enough to power at least 17 homes for an entire year. 

Ezra founder Nick Goldberg urged business leaders to bear carbon emissions in mind when planning future meetings and conferences.

He told HR magazine: “There’s no doubt that many of us are looking forward to a return to normality and a digital workplace detox, having spent well over a year conducting our professional lives in an online capacity.

“There’s also no doubt that large scale professional conferences will always play a vital role within the professional world, if only as a great opportunity to network and meet new people.”

However, Goldberg added the last year of remote working will have caused many big businesses to realise that virtual platforms can be a powerful cost-saving tool.

“Whether it be for large scale staff meetings, cross country catch-ups or even something as simple as staff training.

“The additional silver lining is that virtual meetings can be a very easy way for many businesses to significantly reduce their carbon footprint.

“And as many of us having already adapted to this way of life, it’s something we can implement immediately,” he said.