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Conference Sustainability

The organising committee worked to create an ESEE Conference in 2015 that was as sustainable as possible. We reduced the amount of meat served and on one of the days served only vegan food. The money that we saved doing this was invested in local and organic produce. We aimed to reduce waste and recycle 95% of waste generated. In terms of carbon emissions, emissions from the venues, accommodation and catering were offset, and participants were asked to offset their travel emissions. Besides the option of carbon offsetting, other actions and activities were taken in close connection with the University of Leeds which has developed strategies and targets to improve sustainability inside and outside campus.

Carbon Offsetting

Venue, Accommodation and Catering

The emissions assessment was based on the University of Leeds figures on carbon emissions. The figures for the University of Leeds carbon emissions are self-assessed using the Carbon trust's Carbon Management Matrix (

Venue/buildings use: 

  • Parkinson Building (carbon emissions for 4 days Conference - Energy) = 0.8 tonnes CO2
  • Michael Saddler Building (carbon emissions for 4 days Conference - Energy) = 1.0 tonnes CO2


  • Storm Jameson Building (carbon emissions for 4 days Conference - Energy) = 0.68 tonnes CO2

Catering including Conference dinner:

  • Refectory emissions for the 4 day duration = 2.4 tonnes CO2

Total carbon emissions estimation = 4.88 tonnes CO2

In total, 10 tonnes of CO2 were offset, more than double of the 4.88 tonnes of CO2 emissions estimation. The cost of the offsetting amounted £70.20 (£7.02 per tonne of CO2). The carbon offsetting was purchased at the Sandbag buy and destroys a permit scheme (


On registration delegates had the opportunity to offset their travel carbon emissions by purchasing a tonne of CO2 for £6.50. In total, 150 delegates chose to pay this amount. Accounting for a change in the carbon price from £6.50 to £7.02 between registration and purchase, 139 tonnes of CO2 were offset.

The table below indicates the emissions from different modes of travel. This was presented as a guide to allow delegates to calculate how many ETS permits they might want to take out of circulation.

Car 100km 27kg
Train 100km 6kg
Coach 100km 8kg
Ferry – car Single channel crossing 22kg
Ferry – foot passenger Single channel crossing 6kg
Airplane 800km (~1 hour) 250 kg

All figures include carbon emissions associated with extraction, refining and manufacture of fuel, roads, vehicles and including radiative forcing of jet emissions. Source:

Offset Scheme

The offsetting scheme that we partnered with is through a non-profit campaigning organisation called Sandbag ( Sandbag campaign for reform on emissions trading policies, but also offer an innovative service that enables individuals, households and companies to use the Europe-wide market in Carbon Dioxide to destroy the equivalent of the CO2 footprint they produce from European carbon markets. Sandbag does this by buying and retiring Carbon Allowances (EUAs) in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Because Sandbag permanently removes Carbon Allowances from circulation, the major European ‘emitters' of CO2 are forced to emit less by the same amount as you offset.