Think back to 2019, we were living in a pre-pandemic world. We were a long way away from social distancing, lockdowns, and isolation.
We were in a world where being a few days away from a physical business conference was the norm. In fact, in 2019 the UK hosted 1.4m physical conferences and business meetings.
We barely gave a thought to the environmental impact of travelling to the venue and back, the throw away plastic cups and cutlery we used, and the printed programmes we forgot to recycle afterwards.
And then covid hit. The hotels and conference spaced previously filled with delegates locked their doors. City centres became ghost towns and transport was pulled back to the minimum.
We were ordered to work from home, but to save jobs and the economy we had to work harder than ever, shifting to online events and virtual meetings.
When variables like transport and electricity usage are included, it's estimated that the average person attending a conference for a single day in the UK produces as much as 145 kg of CO2.
Over the course of a single working day, a 1,000-person conference produces 145,000 kg of CO2, the equivalent of driving 364,414 miles or charging 17,638,184 smartphones.
However, if a 1,000-person conference was held entirely online, the carbon impact would be significantly reduced. In reality, the C02 emissions would be reduced by over 95%, to just 682kg.
Although not all business can be done virtually, live events with face-to-face encounters have a significant advantage, and is also worth more than £70bn to the economy. We feel that both virtual and live events have a role in the modern workplace, and at Rail Technology Magazine, we are attempting to establish a balance between the two.
We make strategic decisions with live events, such as picking sites near train stations to encourage the use of the railway and a low-carbon mode of transportation. In order to lessen our live events carbon footprint, we're switching to digital conference and dinner agendas and using reusable and biodegradable plastics. There is a huge opportunity for the events industry to contribute to reducing emissions.
After the stark warning seen with the IPCC's latest climate report, businesses carbon footprint is something that we can no longer afford to ignore. Businesses must reduce their carbon footprint significantly.
If you’d like to know more about our virtual events head to the RTM365 website. RTM365 is a calendar of virtual events happening over the next 12 months highlighting the key topics for discussions across our sector.
For live events, head to TransCityRail, our regional networking events, where upcoming investments across the North and Midlands are discussed.