Carbon emissions analysis of GUADEC 2022

I’ve just finished estimating the carbon emissions from GUADEC 2022, and have a few interesting highlights from the report. The report is based on data collected from the streaming servers, registration data, and the post-conference survey.

  • Having an online component to the conference increased the audience by a factor of 10: there were around 120 in-person attendees in Mexico, but there were an average of 1300 people using Big Blue Button.
  • The carbon emissions from providing the remote infrastructure were around 2.8tCO2e, or about 2kgCO2e per remote attendee.
  • Having a remote attendance party in Berlin allowed around one tenth of the attendees to attend with a factor of 10 lower transport emissions than those who attended in-person in Mexico. The average transport emissions for those who went to Berlin were 88kgCO2e, whereas they were around 1tCO2e for those going to Mexico.
  • For context, the annual emissions per person can be at most 2.3tCO2e by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century. That covers all food, travel, heating, purchases, etc. So travel to Mexico was 40% of the average attendee’s annual target.
  • Half of the in-person attendees travelled from within Mexico, which will have skewed the mean transport emissions downwards. The distribution is more likely bimodal between around 50kgCO2e for locals and more like 2-3tCO2e for those coming from outside Mexico.
  • As I wrote at the time, the remote attendance party was fun to attend and felt like it worked as a way to attend the conference (there were no A/V problems, we had some nice local socials, etc.). I would do it again.
  • The post-conference survey had a low response rate of about 19% of registered attendees, which made some of this analysis hard. Please always fill in the post-conference survey! It doesn’t take long, and aside from any of this analysis, it helps the organisers plan conferences better in future.
  • Many thanks to Kristi, Caroline and Bartłomiej for collecting the data needed for this analysis.
  • If anyone spots problems in the analysis please say! This is not the kind of thing I practice doing very often and I’ve had to make a number of assumptions.

Other conferences

A post-conference survey has been done for other big GNOME events, such as GNOME.Asia and LAS. Would anyone be interested in doing a similar analysis for those events? Perhaps we can get a semi-automated pipeline in place for it.