B.C. prof joins movement cutting back on flights to fight climate change

Lynda Gagne, an assistant professor of public administration, said she signed up for the No Fly Climate Sci list because she was concerned about the amount of flying she and other academics do to attend conferences.

University of Victoria academic says she wants to address 'stark future' facing the planet

Some academics say they fly 10s of thousands of kilometres every year to attend conferences. (Mike Hillman/CBC News)

A professor at the University of Victoria is joining a growing list of scientists and citizens pledging to cut back on air travel in an effort to address climate change.

Lynda Gagne, an assistant professor of public administration, said she signed up for the No Fly Climate Sci list because she was concerned about the amount of flying she and other academics do to attend conferences.

"I think it is an important move to make in light of the stark future we are looking at if we don't make massive changes," Gagne told CBC News.

She says she's down to about one flight per year — usually a combined trip for work and visiting family.

Linda Gagne is an assistant professor of public administration at the University of Victoria. (University of Victoria)

The No Fly Climate Sci list was started by Peter Kalmus, an atmospheric scientist in Los Angeles, after he realized he'd flown more than 80,000 kilometres in 2010.

"Flying really is a huge source of emissions. There's really no way a normal person can make the planet warm more quickly than by getting on an airplane," he told CBC

He stepped on a plane for the last time in 2012. Since then, he's started attending meetings remotely or travelling to them by train, container ship or car.

'We need more awareness at the top'

Kalmus said he hopes to convince universities and other institutions to use technology to connect researchers rather than organizing international conferences.

"We realize that our own decisions not to fly are not nearly enough to solve this crisis. But we think it's a way to communicate the urgency to the public and hopefully put some pressure on our institutions," he said.

Gagne agrees.

"I think we need more awareness at the top, with the funders and with the university heads and so on, so it's accepted that traveling overseas is not a requirement for you to get ahead in academia," she said.

More than 120 people have signed up for the list, including earth scientists, other academics and members of the general public, according to Kalmus.

With files from Chad Pawson and Megan Thomas