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Net zero update for 2023

  • Greg WoodIETF LLC Director of Communications and Operations
  • Stephanie McCammonDirector of Meetings and Sponsorships, IETF Secretariat

29 Nov 2023

With IETF 118 Prague complete as the last meeting of 2023, we wanted to provide an update on the IETF’s carbon footprint over the past year and efforts going forward to increase the sustainability of how the IETF operates.

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2023 Summary

Using the calculator developed and delivered in 2022, for 2023 we’ve carried out CO2 footprint calculations for each of the IETF plenary meetings, as well as the ongoing operations that support the work of the IETF community. These calculations relied on data already collected around IETF meetings, taking an approach that aims to fully capture emissions. Initial discussions this year considered gathering additional information from IETF meeting participants for more accurate calculations, such as taking into account travel by train, however no conclusion was reached. In addition to meetings, ongoing operations by the IETF Administration  LLC and the IETF Secretariat generated a calculated footprint of 59 tCO2e. Thus, the total calculated IETF carbon footprint for 2023 is 7,559 tCO2e.

Summary of calculated IETF carbon footprint for 2023
ActivityCalculated tCO2e*

IETF 116 Yokohama

2931

IETF 117 San Francisco

2096

IETF 118 Prague

2473

Operations

59

TOTAL

7,559

* tCO2e = tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (e)

A full set of graphs for each meeting is provided below.

Offsetting was considered both as part of the initial project plan and the community consultation conducted during 2022. It was further discussed at several sidemeetings held during IETF meetings in 2023. However, there have been a number of investigations that have undermined confidence in the global carbon offset market and so we are still researching options that we can have lasting confidence in.

Another area of focus has been on waste reduction, and in particular food waste reductions, around IETF meetings. For example, at IETF 117, with the support of meeting host Nokia, we provided reusable water bottles to meeting attendees, eliminating more than 6,100 single-use plastic bottles for that meeting. At IETF 118, the hotel venue had a food redistribution program, ensuring that food prepared for, but not consumed by meeting participants in Prague was donated daily to a shelter for unhoused residents in the neighborhood. We also more closely monitored and noted leftover food so that we can better tailor food orders at future meetings to reduce waste and cost.

2024 Plans

Going forward, we will continue to calculate the IETF’s carbon for 2024 using our existing methods. Building on efforts at meetings in 2023, we will continue to reduce the materials used for and waste around providing food and beverages. In addition, we will explore new approaches for providing other meeting materials, such as badges, lanyards and t-shirts, that reduce the amount of materials at meetings, as well as shipping required to provide them. As one small example, we are considering meeting and hackathon badges that do not require plastic holders.

We are particularly grateful for the support IETF Sustainability sponsors, such as Gold Sponsor Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, provide for this work. If you or your organization would also like to support efforts to make how the IETF works more sustainable, please contact Stephanie McCammon of the IETF sponsorship team.

If you are interested in learning more and participating in the conversation, please subscribe and contribute to the admin-discuss@ietf.org mailing list.

2023 IETF meeting carbon footprint calculations

The graphs below were generated using the IETF Emissions Calculator developed as part of a project to develop a path towards net zero for the IETF. A full report describes the work undertaken to develop the calculator and a possible offset strategy.

Sources of IETF 116 Carbon Footprint
Sources of IETF 116 Carbon Footprint-2
Sources of IETF 117 Carbon Footprint
Sources of IETF 117 Carbon Footprint-2
Sources of IETF 118 Carbon Footprint
Sources of IETF 118 Carbon Footprint-2

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