Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Application Domains

Social and Environmental Responsibility (Implication domains)

These last years we have maintained a frequent team discussion on the social and environmental responsibility of researchers. It has become more frequent this year, with the announcements of serious environmental issues by many governmental or non governmental organizations.

We are engaged in many actions regarding this responsibility. A constant ethics questioning, directing our research projects according to our values, teaching and popularization of ethical values. In particular we are engaged in several research projects on health and environment, and one of us has been a member of the institutional workgroup on environmental issues at Inria.

Regarding the functioning of research activities, we attempted a measure of the environmental footprint of our activities, regardless of their aims. It has the shape of a carbon footprint analysis, gathering the carbon footprint of travels, computer usage, computer equipment. We are aware of the incompleteness of this analysis, as well by not including many activities (nutrition, homeplace-workplace trips), and not taking other environmental issues than carbon emissions.

However it is a starting point, that we presented to many colleagues who were interested in reproducing the computation, so we give the headlines here. We used the unitary costs given by a website we constructed: The data was collected on an average taken over 3 years, 2016-2018 (we cannot yet at this stage make the analysis for 2019). Travels by members of the team or invited researchers emitted 39.86tCO2. Computing hours on local clusters emitted 17.46tCO2. The acquisition of computers accounts for the emission of 4.53tCO2. The total is 61.85tCO2.

Based on this lower bound of our CO2 emissions, the total per person is around 3 tons per person. Probably this number is highly underevaluated since it accounts for only part of our professional activities.

Whether it is too high or acceptable, and the establishment of a carbon budget is a difficult question. If we refer to the goals of the COP21 conclusions, we should emit less than 2 tons of CO2 per person in 2050 to reach carbon neutrality. This includes professional and personal life, and all the services we benefit from. We did not arrive yet at a consensus on the objective we should reach to consider we have a sutainable activity, but we in majority recognize that we are anyway far above what would be a consensus objective. We are still in a discussion to engage in a reduction.