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After a year of pandemic working conditions, companies that sent teams home last March are planning a return to the office, in some form. When considering the environmental impact of remote work vs office work, the calculation isn’t straightforward. It depends on a number of factors, including
Why This Matters: Of course, plenty of people have continued commuting into their jobs through the pandemic to work at grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants. But for office workers, the upcoming shift into post-pandemic work is an opportunity to decrease its climate impact. Commuting is a major factor in transportation patterns, which is one of the biggest contributors to US emissions. Staying at home is one way to lower those emissions, but so is replacing individual drivers with electrified public transit riders.
Even without a full return to offices, global carbon pollution is already back to pre-pandemic levels. The back-to-work moment is a chance to set company-wide standards that take emissions into account.
Working From Anywhere Could Decrease Density: Without climate-conscious planning, remote work could lead to an increase in driving: “If this remote-work world encourages more people to move out of the urban core and into the suburbs, it may look like emissions for the company are going down, because commutes are going down,” Taylor Francis, co-founder and president of the emissions calculator Watershed told CityLab. “But the actual total carbon in the world is going up.”
About Those Airline Emissions: Another aspect of the return to work is the resumption of business travel. And most of those travelers are who sustainability scientist Kimberly Nicholas called the “carbon elite,” whose individual decision-making can have an outsized impact on emissions. Case in point: half of all air travel emissions are generated by the single 1 percent of people on earth who fly the most.
By Wizipan Little Elk On August 23, 1804, a shot rang out on the wind-swept prairie near what is now called southeastern South Dakota, marking the first buffalo kill of the famous Lewis and Clark reconnaissance expedition. For us Lakota, our neighbors, and our buffalo relatives, it signaled the beginning of what was to become […]
Continuing its set of opinion surveys in the run-up to Earth Day, Gallup has released the results of another poll, finding that the percent of American adults who say that “protection of the environment should be given priority even at the risk of curbing economic growth” has dropped by 15% since 2018. Experts say that this number often correlates with unemployment, which the COVID-19 pandemic greatly increased.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Netflix has announced a commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022. The plan, called “Net Zero + Nature,” was announced on the Netflix blog by Dr. Emma Stewart, who became the content platform’s first sustainability officer in the fall of 2020. Netflix estimates that its 2020 […]
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