Online vs. In-person: what’s the carbon footprint?

Imagine a world where you didn’t have to travel to collaborate with anyone around the world. The COVID pandemic showed that this is possible with the sudden move online, and while there are drawbacks, online events allow people to join in without visa or financial concerns, and without the sizable environmental footprint of travel.


But just how big a difference is that carbon footprint? Compared to flying halfway around the world it’s clearly massive - our most conservatives estimates suggest a typical UN event would produce 96% less CO2 if held online rather than in-person.  But what are the edge cases? How do different modes of transport compare and what impact do different hardware or software choices have on online events?  


This project aims to build an open source CO2 Calculator to be able to compare online, in-person and hybrid events to help individuals and organisations make data-driven decisions about how they use virtual events.


Information for students: There is already a working prototype that you would be encouraged to build on top of, although this is not a requirement.  This is a coding-heavy project with elements of full-stack web development. Other useful skills include UI design, UX, the environment and IT infrastructure. Specifically:

  • Mathematical modelling in python
  • Python backend development (FastAPI in particular)
  • ReactJS frontend development
  • UI / UX and data visualisation skills


Additional information: