Today I woke up and followed my usual routine. I caught the train from Rome to Monterotondo, albeit a bit earlier than usual. But my final goal was not to arrive at the lab – it was to make it to EMBL Heidelberg by hopping on a few more trains. As an EMBL PhD student, I have the chance to travel around the world to attend courses and present my research. But this great opportunity for my scientific and personal development comes with a price for the environment. Have you ever wondered how much carbon dioxide (CO2) you’re putting in the air every time you take a plane? Each one-way plane trip to Heidelberg emits approximately 152 kg of CO2 and 640 g of nitrogen oxides. Flights produce greenhouse gases – mainly CO2 – from burning fuel. These contribute to global warming when released into the atmosphere. Planes release 2% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). By choosing to travel by train rather than plane today, I am emitting 74% less CO2 to the environment.
I had to take four trains: 1) Rome Tuscolana to Rome Tiburtina, 2) Tiburtina to Milano, 3) Milano to Karlsruhe, and 4) Karlsruhe to Heidelberg. The journey was 11 hours long, compared to the 7 hours it took me the last time I travelled to Heidelberg. In that case, I used three different modes of transport: 1) train from Rome Tuscolana to Fiumicino, 2) plane from Rome to Frankfurt, and 3) bus from Frankfurt to Heidelberg.
Trains are more spacious than planes, and they normally have WiFi. I was able to work on my laptop (when I wasn’t being distracted by the gorgeous landscape as I travelled through Tuscany and across the Alps). What about the price? Booking six weeks in advance, the total price one way was under 120 euros.
In summary, I absolutely advise all EMBL fellows and visitors travelling from Rome to Heidelberg to go by train.
· It doesn’t have to cost much more than going by plane + shuttle/taxi.
· It takes several more hours, but the logistics mean the time can be used to focus on work.
· You would reduce your carbon footprint, by emitting 74% less CO2 on your trip.
I hope this post will inspire you to consider travelling in a more environmentally friendly way on your future trips.
Cheers from EMBL Heidelberg!
PhD student in the Gross Lab