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A role model for less air travel

Visual interpretation: Mauro Onori in front of a brick wall.
Mauro Onori, Head of the department of Production Engineering
Published Apr 09, 2019

The climate impact from air travels is a large problem and academics are among the worst sinners. Mauro Onori decided to change behavior and be an inspiration for others.

Hi, Mauro, head of the department of Production Engineering. You have decided to drastically cut down on flying, and want to inspire your colleagues to do the same. What made you take that step?

I guess my daughter set it off: she joined the Swedish venture to renounce flying (Vi som håller oss på jorden) and, after an analysis, we both realized that academics were among the worst sinners in this category. So, I decided to try and cut my flying costs.

You’ve written a few advice for your colleagues at IIP, a way of thinking that helps reduce travel, why is that?

Some seniors within the academy have made it a way of working life to travel and mingle abroad. Still, we have lectured on Lean Production (cutting waste), re-usable systems, improved business models and many other methods and technologies to our students. Now it’s time that we academics implement what we preach.

How should one change the mindset?

Don’t overestimate your self-importance. Remind yourself that we are educators first and foremost and that we should push younger researchers to form networks, gain attention, etc. Industrial objectives for the future have an ethical dimension today trying to radically reduce the use of natural resources, to lower energy use, long-lasting machines and so on – but it’s also about how we, humans, take personal responsibility for how we manage our earth.

What’s the alternative to traveling?

The global climate change problem is well known by most, and they are willing to act upon it. For example, when asked to be the main opponent for a PhD defense, I simply asked if it could be done via video-link. The reply was yes. You can also limit the number of organizations you join. Pass the responsibility to younger researchers and: if you miss joining a meeting in person, nothing serious will happen. Take turns in traveling to meetings – the whole group doesn’t have to attend every conference. It is very important that KTH lead the way in this endeavor to change.

Text: Anna Gullers and Mario Onori

Belongs to: Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM)
Last changed: Apr 09, 2019