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Annual Meetings: Time, Costs and Now Greenhouse Guilt

For their study published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Parker et al. analyzed the environmental impact of the 2019 AOFAS Annual Meeting held in Chicago. They analyzed the event’s carbon footprint by considering the postal codes and countries of the 1,271 attendees. They used the Internet-based calculator MyClimate to estimate the CO2 emissions resulting from round-trip air travel.

How big is my footprint?

The meeting’s total estimated emissions, including travel, conference space, and hotel stays, amounted to 1565 tons CO2e. Of the total meeting attendees, 29% met or exceeded 2.5 tons CO2e expenditure – the annual recommended per capita total. The median per capita emissions for both international and domestic registrants were 2.9 tons CO2e.

Strategies to reduce AOFAS footprint

To minimize the meeting’s carbon footprint, the authors propose a hub system strategy that rotates the meeting among four central locations (Chicago, Santiago, London, and Tokyo). This 54% reduction in round-trip travel, according to their prediction, would reduce the CO2e emissions to 647 tons CO2e.

This poses a risk, however, in that the US-based AOFAS members might only attend the US stop.

Perhaps the all-virtual meeting of 2020 – where there was 34 tons CO2e (a 97.8% decrease) – is the best option for minimizing the AOFAS carbon footprint.

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