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Accepted Paper:

Actioning green travel agendas through an overland journey to COP28  
Andrew Russell (Durham University)

Paper Short Abstract:

Academic air travel, a crucial topic for scholarship and action, poses particular dilemmas for anthropologists. This paper reports a journey to the UNFCCC COP28 using overland public transport and the insights gained from using green travel in order to attend a global mega-event such as this.

Paper Abstract:

Carbon emissions from academic air travel (AAT) are or should be of concern to all in higher education with an interest in saving the planet from environmental catastrophe. AAT is a particularly challenging issue for anthropologists, who are frequently compelled to undertake long-distance air travel for fieldwork and other research-related purposes (e.g. attending professional conferences). For an anthropologist researching global health and environmental diplomacy, there was a particular irony in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) being hosted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a place so difficult to reach from most other parts of the world except by flying, the most carbon-intensive form of travel on the planet. I took the decision early on to travel to COP28 using overland public transport as much as possible. This paper will give an account of the journey and the diverse benefits of using travel modalities other than flying to reach COP28. In Clifford (1992)’s terms, separating ethnography (‘being there’) from travel (‘getting there’) seems particularly egregious if one seeks to undertake fieldwork at a global mega-event such as this without also considering the possibility of making the journey there an opportunity for action on AAT. In this paper I shall show how planning and executing such a journey yielded unexpected insights into climate change as a global problem and how we tackle it.

Panel OP092
Doing justice differently – new approaches to anthropological research in human and environmental health
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -