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CILIPS22 x CILIPSGoGreen – how did we do?

Category: Blog, CILIPSGoGreen

The #CILIPS22 meets #CILIPSGoGreen logo, showing a photo of the Dundee waterfront overlaid with a wildflower meadow, the CILIPS logo and text reading 'how did we do?'

In advance of our 2022 Annual Conference – our first in-person conference for three years – we shared with delegates our plans to make the two-day event as sustainable as it was inspirational, taking a number of steps informed by the 2022 CILIPS Carbon Neutrality Plan. How did we do?

Printed Programmes

Printing even a low-weight paper item like our conference programme 200 times results in 0.02 tCO2e, so our ‘digital first’ strategy ensured that there were still paper programme copies for everyone who wanted or needed one, while delegates who preferred to keep things digital received an emailed PDF version in advance (a QR code at the welcome desk also let them download it on the day).

We saw more than a 50% reduction in the number of printed programmes distributed, cutting in half the carbon impact of our conference printing. After receiving their PDF copies, some delegates had printed out individual pages to bring with them, and at future conference we may seek to further develop this flexibility: single black and white pages are still more cost and carbon effective than full colour eight-page programmes. Delegates adapted extremely well to the digital first strategy and, thanks as always to our incredible team of conference volunteers, we saw no increase in confusion or inconvenience as people chose their preferred parallel sessions. A small number of exhibitors noted that they would prefer printed delegate lists, but delegates themselves found the emailed version more than enough. Indeed, a more popular way to get to know one another proved to be our Protests and Suffragettes top trumps networking game!

Reduced Food Waste Strategy

While this was primarily in the hands of the Dundee Apex Hotel, delegates responded very positively to the strategy and even recommended that it should go further next time. For example, delegates suggested that tap water in carafes could replace the hotel’s existing glass bottles, while our own recent attendance at the SCVO Gathering indicated that a conference can run very successfully with a fully vegetarian menu. Carbon footprints are reduced by vegan/vegetarian locally produced food and increased by takeaways, imported items and high levels of food waste, and we will continue to work with our in-person venues to ensure that catering is kept as sustainable as possible.

Travel – Speakers and Delegates

If 150 conference delegates per day had all attended by car, the carbon impact would have been at least 13.5tCO2e. If those 150 delegates each purchased a train ticket instead, the impact would equate to just 0.26tCO2e, only 2% of the car travel carbon cost. We therefore encouraged our speakers and delegates to travel sustainably to and from #CILIPS22 if their access requirements allowed it, helping us to lessen its collective environmental impact. Based on our estimates from speaker expenses, and our own decision to transport conference materials ourselves rather than use a courier, we can very roughly calculate at least a 1/3 reduction in our overall conference travel carbon footprint.

Again, delegates had some fantastic suggestions for how to enhance this step in subsequent years. Post-pandemic, could we organise CILIPS conference car shares? Or provide details about electric car charging points in our delegate information?

Hello to Hybrid

Our 2022 Robert Gordon University placement student Beulah Lowry recently completed this comprehensive report for CILIPS exploring the applicability of a hybrid events model, highlighting the reduction of carbon emissions as one factor in favour of hybrid or virtual offerings. Our annual conference included some (impromptu!) hybrid elements, with Covid forcing our President Amina Shah to join us over Zoom and Gemma Cairney, one of our keynote speakers, likewise attending virtually. We had also already made the decision that this would be our only in-person event for 2022, with the rest of the year’s training taking place via a diverse series of online Autumn Gatherings. Furthermore, we videoed all keynotes and parallel sessions in the main conference room, which are now available as captioned recordings on the CILIPS YouTube channel. In coming years, we will continue to explore new ways in which we can maximise CPD for CILIPS members whilst remaining mindful of the need to reduce and eventually neutralize our carbon footprint.

Sustainability Panel Discussion and Supporting #GreenLibraries

Environmental understanding and action also formed a key part of the conference programme itself as we welcomed Kathy Hopkin from Julie’s Bicycle, Dr Emily Munro from the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive, Alison Nolan from Inverclyde Libraries and Christina Riley from The Nature Library to our sustainability panel discussion. This deeply thought-provoking conversation revealed how values of social justice, integral to #WeAreCILIP and the CILIPS EDI Commitment, are inextricably linked with climate action. Our panellists also articulated the unique role of libraries in tackling misinformation, acting as a catalyst for environmental activities in their communities, and providing both a physical and conceptual safe space for all those affected by the repercussions of climate change as well as climate anxiety and grief.

Post-conference, we have also been strengthening our links with the Green Libraries Partnership by signing the Green Libraries Manifesto and joining the Green Libraries Network – a collaborative online space for Green Champions across the sector who are working together for people and planet. If you have a professional interest in supporting Green Libraries, please visit the CILIP website or email CILIPS Membership Officer Kirsten to learn how you can get involved.

Calculations and Conclusions

Once again combining two carbon calculators – the World Wildlife Fund and the Gallery Climate Coalition – we estimate that conferences in past years averaged at around 2.1tCO2e through a combination of printing and couriers, speaker flights and a less environmentally friendly balance between car and train attendance. For CILIPS22, based on the steps outlined above, we estimate that our carbon footprint was roughly 1tCO2e, more than a 50% reduction, which CILIPS has offset via a donation to Keep Scotland Beautiful. Well done delegates!

Thanks to the enthusiasm and efforts of our speakers, delegates, volunteers and exhibitors, our annual conference made a significant contribution towards fulfilling the ambitions of the CILIPS Carbon Neutrality Plan. Stay tuned for further sustainability action taking place at CILIPS23!


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