UM employees are not enthusiastic about compensating flights yet

UM employees are not enthusiastic about compensating flights yet

Score after more than one year: 35 euro ‘greening contribution’

08-02-2023 · News

MAASTRICHT. A single deposit of 35 euro. After more than a year, this is the meagre proceeds for the UM Mitigation Fund, to which UM employees can transfer money as a form of compensation for a flight they have taken, a so-called ‘greening contribution’.

The fund is part of Take the green seat, a campaign by sustainability team Sustainable UM2030. Its goal is to limit the carbon footprint of Maastricht University by discouraging business trips by aeroplane. Can an employee reach their destination by train within eight hours? Then this option would be strongly preferred. Is flying really necessary? Then the employee (voluntarily) deposits an amount – depending on the CO2 emissions of the flight, varying from a minimum of ten euro for a return trip to Dublin to almost four hundred euro for a destination such as Sydney - into the ‘mitigation fund’. This money is intended for sustainable objectives, for which contributors can have a say in the choice.

After stagnation in the implementation, the fund was officially introduced at the end of 2021. The result after more than a year: only one employee paid a greening contribution, on an estimated 1000+ flights by UM employees, Anja van Bogaert, co-ordinator of Sustainable UM2030, said. “Of course we are disappointed, but it was also to be expected.” The most important reason is that depositing the contribution is now administratively too complicated. Moreover, it is not always permitted. “Business trips are sometimes funded by money from projects, subject to certain conditions.”

According to Van Bogaert, this is also why the university has not (yet) made the contribution compulsory. “This is an in-between phase. There are still plenty of snags and catches to it.” In the meantime, the project group UM en route is working on new policy for travel behaviour. When this will be introduced and whether the greening contribution will be included, is still unclear, project leader Cyriel Heuts states. “At the moment, we are looking into commuter traffic, business trips will come later. However, it is clear that sustainability will be an important aspect and that we will include the recommendations from the Sustainable UM2030 team.”

The meagre contribution does not mean that employees are not working on more sustainable travel. Van Bogaert: “The agencies with which they book their business trips, often have their own compensation systems for CO2 emissions, which are easier to use.” Moreover, it appears that UM employees more often choose to travel by train for shorter distances. “Although the available data is not detailed enough to say that with certainty.”

Photo: Pexels

Tags: travel policy,flying,sustainability,sus2030,train,plane,travel,mitigation fund,greening contribution,employees

Responses

Harro van Lente

It is right that the meager use of the mitigation fund does not imply UM employees don't care. The reason that I am not compensating flights is that I have abandoned all my flights, private and business. I only attend conferences and workshops when they can be reached by train.

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