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Sustainable students travel to Iceland by sea

News: Jun 02, 2017

The students will visit Reykjavik, among other things. Photo: Ulrika Lundin.

On the first weekend in June, 13 students from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg will travel to Iceland to study the country’s conversion to green energy. To minimise their environmental impact, the students will travel by boat instead of flying. Those on the trip include students of law, environmental economics, human geography and statistics and they all have a common interest in climate change and sustainability issues.

The project, called EnviroTravel, is run by the organization Handels Students for Sustainability (HaSS), which is an association for students at the School of Business, Economics and Law who want to work for sustainable development. This year’s trip to Iceland is being financed by the university’s internal climate fund.

“I am most interested in the factors that have made Iceland’s switch to renewable energy possible, particularly from a political and economic perspective. What can the Icelandic model teach us about the difficulties and opportunities in constructing sustainable, renewable energy supply systems in other countries?” says Kajsa Ganhammar, a member of the travelling party who is studying environmental economics.

Studying sustainability work in practice

The EnviroTravel project is one of the biggest organised by HaSS and involves travelling abroad in order to study sustainability. A group of students is given the opportunity to observe sustainability work in practice within a selected field. Last summer’s trip was to Bangladesh to study the textile industry from a sustainability perspective. This year, the aim is to study Iceland’s switch to green energy.

“Iceland has gone from being a developing country heavily dependent on coal and oil to a well-developed industrialised nation with an energy supply that comes entirely from renewable sources, thanks mainly to its good access to hydroelectric and geothermal energy. As a result, Iceland is often considered to be a pioneering country when it comes to making the transition to a more sustainable energy supply. Through this project we aim to find inspiration and gather knowledge about Iceland’s successful switch to a renewable energy supply. We are particularly interested in examining this transition from environmental, economic, legal and logistical perspectives,” says Mia Bivered, who is studying environmental economics and is also the project leader for this year’s EnviroTravel trip.

The students have several study visits planned, including to Reykjavik University, the University of Iceland, a geothermal power plant and Iceland’s state energy company. They will also be meeting Icelandic environmental lawyers and other students who share their particular interest in developing a sustainable society.

Sailing instead of flying

In order to minimise their environmental impact, the students are travelling by boat from Gothenburg to Frederikshavn and then onwards from Hirtshals via the Faroe Islands to Seyðisfjörður on Iceland. The journey from Gothenburg to Iceland takes three days and the students have used the Svalna service at Chalmers to calculate that travelling by boat instead of flying will reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 38 per cent.

“The journey will take a few days, but we will be travelling with a clear conscience and we will also have the opportunity to experience the fantastic natural surroundings,” says Bivered.

Learn more about the EnviroTravel students journey via the university’s Instagram account, Facebook and on the HaSS website.

About the University of Gothenburg’s internal climate fund

To offset its carbon dioxide emissions from flights on business trips, the university provides climate compensation in the form of an internal climate fund. Every flight taken on business costs SEK 118 in climate compensation, following the polluter pays principle. Employees and students can apply for money from this fund for various projects that help to reduce the university’s negative climate impact. Projects must be innovative and feasible and must have clear relevance for the climate. In 2016, the fund distributed around SEK 2 million.

Read more about the internal climate fund and which projects it has financed.
 




 


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