Reducing the environmental impact of the EGU General Assembly
With approximately 18,000 participants in 2023, the EGU’s General Assembly, held in Vienna, Austria each spring, has a substantial environmental impact. For on-site attendees, this includes travel to and within Vienna, accommodation, food, and drinks. For organizers, this means considering the building in which the meeting is held, pamphlets, posters and other information media, badges, the catering we provide, signage, and other additions made specifically for the conference.
To minimize the environmental footprint of Europe's largest geoscience event, the European Geosciences Union (EGU) has implemented extensive greening measures and continues to explore new ones. This webpage provides information on the numerous green initiatives and engagements that have allowed EGU, in collaboration with its partner congress organizer Copernicus Meetings and the Austria Center Vienna (ACV), to achieve more sustainability at the General Assembly.
New measures taken by the Austria Center Vienna (ACV)
In recent years the ACV has taken many steps to help improve the environmental impact of meetings held in their venue. For a full detailed description of these steps, check out the document on their information page, but key amongst these have been:
- A new heat-recovery system installed in the ventilation that has cut energy use in the venue by 90%
- Replacing 7000 old fashioned fluorescent lights with energy efficient LED lights, saving approximately 500,000 kWh of energy per year
- Installation of solar collectors on the roof to provide hot water to the venue
- Use of local suppliers for catering and other support needs
EGU strongly encourages General Assembly attendees to help reduce the environmental impact of their participation by considering the following:
- traveling by train, bus, metro, or bicycle to/from and within Vienna whenever possible,
- booking eco-friendly accommodations in close proximity to the congress centre and reachable by public transport (free ticket included in registration),
- bringing a reusable water bottle,
- bringing a reusable coffee cup,
- avoiding printing programmes, but instead creating a personal programme online,
- bringing the name badge lanyard from a previous EGU conference,
- avoiding the distribution of flyers or other printed materials,
- avoiding the production of waste and, in particular, the utilization of single-use materials wherever possible,
- applying a strict waste separation by using the provided compartments inside the congress centre.
Travelling & accommodation
- Attendees are asked to compare the different means of transportation for their individual travels. Such a service is offered by various sites (e.g. the German website www.greenmobility.de).
- We encourage participants to travel by train or bus to Vienna whenever possible. Overnight trains to Vienna are available from Rome (ÖBB), Zurich (SBB), and Brussels (ÖBB), as well as some large cities in Germany (e.g. Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Dusseldorf). A service from Amsterdam to Vienna is also being planned.
- Train travel can among others be planned at DB, SBB, ÖBB Scotty, and SNCF.
- Bus travel can among others be planned at https://www.vib-wien.at/en.
- For travel within Vienna, including to/from the conference centre, we have included a local transportation ticket in the registration fee. The Austria Center Vienna (ACV) can be reached by metro U1 to the station "Kaisermühlen/Vienna Int. Centre".
- EGU promotes bike rental in Vienna and provides a guarded bicycle parking lot at the ACV. Bicycles can be rented through CityBike Vienna, Donkey Bike, or, close to the ACV, at Copa Cagrana Rad und Skaterverleih.
- We encourage participants to choose eco-friendly accommodations and recommend choosing hotels in close distance to the conference centre ACV. Various eco-labels for hotels are available and an overview is given on the website of the Austrian Ecolabel.
Catering at the General Assembly
- We provide water fountains throughout the building and encourage attendees to bring their own reusable water bottles. Since 2018, this has saved about 30,000 single-use PET water bottles per year (based on the number distributed in 2017).
- Coffee and tea are still served in single-use paper cups to be disposed in separated paper waste compartments. In 2019, EGU began encouraging attendees to bring their own coffee mugs and offered reusable coffee cups for sale at the General Assembly. EGU strongly encourages attendees to bring their own multi-use mugs. Switching to multi-use coffee cups could save up to 100,000 paper cups at each General Assembly.
- We strongly encourage our on-site catering partner to offer more selections of vegetarian and vegan food, and since 2022 several areas of our catering have been 100% vegan and vegetarian.
Information on the General Assembly
- We no longer print a paper programme book and daily programme and instead encourage attendees to access the programme online and/or through smartphones. This has saved about 1 million printed A5 pages per year since 2018.
- The daily newsletter EGU Today went to fully digital in 2019, saving 15,000 double-sided A4 printed pages per year.
- From 2022, EGU pens distributed at the EGU booth are made of bamboo rather than plastic.
At the General Assembly
- Replacing the old poster board design, EGU are pleased to for the first time be using poster boards formed from acoustic panels made of recycled PET. Not only are these multi-use boards more sustainable, but they also help to reduce sound inside the poster areas. These panels are stored in Vienna and will be reused for at least 5 years.
- Name badges consist of lanyards made of 100% recycled PET and a paper badge made of 100% FSC-recycled paper. Since 2022, the paper badges are no longer pocketed in a plastic sleeve. Attendees are asked to bring their EGU lanyard from a past conference or, if taking a lanyard this year, keep it to reuse for future General Assemblies. The paper badge can be easily recycled in any paper disposal system.
- We advise attendees to avoid the production of waste wherever possible, to utilize multi-use materials, to strictly separate waste, and to avoid the distribution of flyers or other single-use materials.
- 2020 https://www.egu.eu/news/550/egu-to-offset-the-travel-emissions-of-every-general-assembly-participant/
- 2019 https://blogs.egu.eu/geolog/2019/03/05/make-your-egu-2019-experience-more-environmentally-friendly/
- 2018 https://www.egu.eu/news/399/egu-takes-measures-to-reduce-environmental-impact-of-its-general-assembly/
On-site contact at ACV
For further information about Green Meetings at the ACV, the criteria for Green Meetings, or practical guidance, please contact the ACV Green Meeting Agent Sascha Tretenhahn and visit the ACV website.
EGU welcomes feedback and suggestions on how we can further improve initiatives aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the General Assembly. You can provide feedback through the annual General Assembly survey, by contacting the EGU Programme Committee Chair, or by contacting Copernicus Meetings.