In 2022, ULiège adopted an environmental policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the international travel of the university community. A part of these emissions cannot be avoided, but the urgency of the ecological transition and the development of alternatives reinforce the stakes and open new perspectives.

Raising awareness of the environmental impacts of international travel

In 2023, university staff travelled more than 20.3 million kilometers by plane to take part in conferences and research, give lectures or develop collaborations. This travel generated almost 4,320 tonnes ofCO2, representing almost 5 % of ULiège's carbon footprint.


Map of the 9440 aeroplane trips made by ULiège staff members in 2019.
© Marc Binard, ULiège – Geomatics, 2022

The first axis of the environmental policy is to raise awareness of these impacts and to make alternatives better known. The objective is to allow each ULiège member to make informed choices, taking into consideration the professional or educational interest of the trip with regard to its impact on the environment and the existing alternatives.

Reducing international travel with digital alternatives

The existence of efficient and reliable alternatives to travel is essential to maintain regular contact with ULiège's international partners, while reserving travel abroad for situations in which a local presence is particularly useful or indispensable to university activity.

ULIEGE-Trajets internationaux-2

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With this in mind, ULiège is deploying a network of rooms equipped with professional videoconferencing equipment. In addition, it is modifying some of its internal processes to allow remote meetings when relevant.

Choose the least polluting mode of transportation when traveling

University members are encouraged to choose the mode of transportation with the lowest environmental impact, taking into account the purposes and constraints of the trip. Train, bus and carpooling should be preferred whenever possible.

Beyond these general recommendations, ULiège has defined rules according to the time it takes to travel by train to the final destination.

  • Train journeys are compulsory to destinations that are generally accessible within 6 hours from station to station, as well as to destinations for which the train journey does not exceed the flight journey by more than 3 hours. From Belgium, these are the destinations on the green list.
  • Train journeys are recommended to destinations accessible in less than 8 hours from station to station, as well as to and from airport hubs accessible in less than 6 hours (international journeys with stopovers). From Belgium, these are the destinations on the orange list.

From Belgian cities or neighboring cities, air travel is therefore prohibited to the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, northern and central France and southern England. It is also not recommended to fly to the south of France, the center of England, Switzerland and Austria.

Offset unavoidable air travel by contributing to an environmental fund

The University of Liège has created an internal fund to support sustainable initiatives, financed by a voluntary contribution from air travelers, calculated on the basis of the greenhouse gas emissions of their trip. The contribution to this internal fund is voluntary and the amount is free, but it is recommended to contribute up to the average price of a ton of carbon on the European exchange market.

Frequently asked questions :

What is the environmental impact of international air travel? Who is affected by this environmental policy? Who is responsible for implementing this environmental policy? How is environmental policy integrated into the 'travel agency' public contract? Where can I find information on the CO2 emissions of my trip? How is environmental information on air travel collected? Can the travel agency appointed under the public contract advise me on a more environmentally-friendly route? Is it possible to travel by train in better conditions of comfort? Is there any financial support for train travel for staff members? Is there any financial support for student travel by train? How can you offset the greenhouse gas emissions from your journeys? What projects are supported by the internal environmental fund? What is the environmental policy for travel in Belgium? Is it possible to deviate from the environmental policy? Where can I get more information on the conditions of the public contract "Travel Agency"?
updated on 3/15/24

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