How Big is Your Footprint?
Do you know how big your carbon footprint is? And that of your organization?
Donaghue, along with other non-governmental research funders, are asking this question and beginning to consider what actions we can take to reduce our impact on the climate. Organizational action on climate is related to Donaghue’s mission and principles in a couple of ways. Our purpose of funding research to promote knowledge of practical benefit says that once knowledge has been created we need to use it in our actions. The research on climate change is in, so now it’s time to act. We also know that climate change has deleterious effects on health. This past September, over 200 medical journals wrote editorials outlining its negative public health impact. Therefore, while the Donaghue Foundation is not primarily focused on climate issues, this upcoming year we are pledging to internally assess some of our current behaviors and how we can modify or improve them to be more eco-friendly. We are reassessing our current processes to make more conscious and intentional decisions in the future as we continue to learn about how our decisions affect our environment and health.
Remote work and meetings had a positive impact on the environment during the first year of the Covid pandemic when so many businesses moved to large-scale remote work. Now in-person meetings are in the foreseeable future, and as we consider costs, convenience, and the intangible benefits of in-person meetings we are also considering climate impact as we make these decisions. Carbon calculators estimate that one in-person Greater Value Portfolio review meeting creates 17,637 pounds or 8 mT of CO2. Is that too much? It’s difficult to say, but because most of that is from travel it is a lot more than we’d generate with a remote meeting.
For now, we are continuing to use video conferencing for our Another Look and GVP review meetings and our Policy Advisory Committee meetings due to Covid-19 considerations, and we have to admit that we miss the energy and warmth of our in-person meetings. No decisions have been made, but we are leaning towards having some remote meetings even as the pandemic dissipates. Perhaps half and half? Perhaps one in-person meeting to two remote meetings?
Other small changes that we could make are to have staff work remotely for a couple of days a week, provide only vegetarian meal and snack options when we host in-person meetings, and reduce our use of paper.
And to make good on the pledge to reduce paper, this will be the last issue of Practically Speaking that will be printed. A few years ago we developed an e-newsletter version of the newsletter and distributed it at the same time as we mailed the printed version. Going forward, Donaghue will only use the e-newsletter version, so please contact us if we don’t already send it to you. We want to reduce our carbon footprint — not reduce our contact with you.