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It is up in the air : academic flying of Swedish sustainability academics and a pathway to organisational change

Burian, Isabell LU (2018) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20181
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Drastic emission-reductions are needed to avoid the disastrous consequences of climate change. Flying is one of the highest individual carbon-impact actions. By 2050, the aviation industry’s share on global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to rise by 300 to 700%. An intervention to counteract this development is to reduce flying at universities as they have a critical role in leading sustainable development. In particular, a change of flying behaviour in sustainability centres has the potential to align research with climate-targets, but not enough is known about their travel behaviour to steer such an organisational change process. Sustainability academics’ role as facilitators of the sustainability transition makes the understanding... (More)
Drastic emission-reductions are needed to avoid the disastrous consequences of climate change. Flying is one of the highest individual carbon-impact actions. By 2050, the aviation industry’s share on global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to rise by 300 to 700%. An intervention to counteract this development is to reduce flying at universities as they have a critical role in leading sustainable development. In particular, a change of flying behaviour in sustainability centres has the potential to align research with climate-targets, but not enough is known about their travel behaviour to steer such an organisational change process. Sustainability academics’ role as facilitators of the sustainability transition makes the understanding of their flying behaviour relevant. In this thesis, I examine the group of sustainability academics in Sweden and use the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS) as an exemplifying case for how they can reduce their flying. I collected empirical material by compiling the number of flights and drivers for travel choices, employing a survey in all Swedish sustainability centres. I conducted interviews and a workshop with LUCSUS-academics to explore possible interventions to reduce their flying. I analysed the quantitative data by computing statistical analyses and the qualitative data by clustering them using the 8-stage framework of organisational change. The results show that, on average, Swedish sustainability academics fly 72% more frequently for work alone than average Swedes do in total per year. Related emissions from these flights (2.61t CO2-eq) are more than twice as high as those of the flights taken by an average Swede. A lack of alternatives and time constraints are the main drivers for flying of Swedish sustainability academics even though their attitude to reduce flights is positive. This study discusses structural drivers like performance norms that hamper reductions of flights at Swedish sustainability centres. At LUCSUS, their research focus and an uncertainty about their research impact towards the sustainability transition exacerbate the difficulties to reduce their flying. These findings challenge research practices in sustainability science and at LUCSUS in particular. As a result of this work, I provide LUCSUS with next steps to reduce their flying. This analysis of the change process, as I conducted it at LUCSUS, could serve as an example for other Swedish sustainability centres to reduce their flights. For actors such as grant providers and universities, this thesis provides evidence that flying should not be actively promoted by performance norms. Collectively LUCSUS, other sustainability centres, universities and grant providers should strive to reduce academic flying as one way to pursue drastic emission mitigation. (Less)
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author
Burian, Isabell LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20181
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
flying Behaviour, sustainability academics, Sweden, air travel, emissions, deinstitutionalisation, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2018:013
language
English
id
8947780
date added to LUP
2018-06-16 11:54:46
date last changed
2018-06-16 11:54:46
@misc{8947780,
  abstract     = {Drastic emission-reductions are needed to avoid the disastrous consequences of climate change. Flying is one of the highest individual carbon-impact actions. By 2050, the aviation industry’s share on global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to rise by 300 to 700%. An intervention to counteract this development is to reduce flying at universities as they have a critical role in leading sustainable development. In particular, a change of flying behaviour in sustainability centres has the potential to align research with climate-targets, but not enough is known about their travel behaviour to steer such an organisational change process. Sustainability academics’ role as facilitators of the sustainability transition makes the understanding of their flying behaviour relevant. In this thesis, I examine the group of sustainability academics in Sweden and use the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS) as an exemplifying case for how they can reduce their flying. I collected empirical material by compiling the number of flights and drivers for travel choices, employing a survey in all Swedish sustainability centres. I conducted interviews and a workshop with LUCSUS-academics to explore possible interventions to reduce their flying. I analysed the quantitative data by computing statistical analyses and the qualitative data by clustering them using the 8-stage framework of organisational change. The results show that, on average, Swedish sustainability academics fly 72% more frequently for work alone than average Swedes do in total per year. Related emissions from these flights (2.61t CO2-eq) are more than twice as high as those of the flights taken by an average Swede. A lack of alternatives and time constraints are the main drivers for flying of Swedish sustainability academics even though their attitude to reduce flights is positive. This study discusses structural drivers like performance norms that hamper reductions of flights at Swedish sustainability centres. At LUCSUS, their research focus and an uncertainty about their research impact towards the sustainability transition exacerbate the difficulties to reduce their flying. These findings challenge research practices in sustainability science and at LUCSUS in particular. As a result of this work, I provide LUCSUS with next steps to reduce their flying. This analysis of the change process, as I conducted it at LUCSUS, could serve as an example for other Swedish sustainability centres to reduce their flights. For actors such as grant providers and universities, this thesis provides evidence that flying should not be actively promoted by performance norms. Collectively LUCSUS, other sustainability centres, universities and grant providers should strive to reduce academic flying as one way to pursue drastic emission mitigation.},
  author       = {Burian, Isabell},
  keyword      = {flying Behaviour,sustainability academics,Sweden,air travel,emissions,deinstitutionalisation,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {It is up in the air : academic flying of Swedish sustainability academics and a pathway to organisational change},
  year         = {2018},
}