In the greenhouse gas balance of Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in 2017*, the total emissions for business trips and stays abroad by staff members were 5,360 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. TU Graz aims to reduce emissions from air travel by 50 per cent on the way to becoming Austria's first climate-neutral university by 2030. The main measures in this context are promoting the switch to climate-friendly rail travel and reducing short- and medium-haul flights. This requires a strong partner, like the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB).
Strong partnership for climate protection
ÖBB’s long-distance and night train network stretches densely across the continent and Graz is connected to the whole of Europe by modern trains. Climate-friendly business trips and switching to rail as a climate-friendly means of travel have never been so attractive. TU Graz provides strong financial and comfort-related incentives for its staff to travel by train. For example, the university covers the cost of 1st class for train journeys over three hours and for the sleeper car for late train journeys. For the “KlimaTicket Steiermark” and the “KlimaTicket Österreich”, TU Graz contributes 150 euros each to its employees. The full costs of an ÖBB Vorteilscard are covered under certain conditions.
Harald Kainz, Rector of TU Graz and driving force behind “Climate-Neutral TU Graz 2030” puts it in a nutshell: “In connection with the climate crisis, people often talk about the sacrifices we all have to make to achieve the climate goals. But a business trip by train proves the opposite. It’s comfortable, it’s safe, it’s promoted by us and it’s maximally climate-friendly in the process.”
When planning and booking their business trips, the approximately 3,600 employees of TU Graz receive the best possible advice and support from ÖBB’s travel service offices.
Peter Wallis, regional manager of ÖBB-Personenverkehr AG in Styria: “Switching to public transport offers everyone the opportunity to actively contribute to climate protection right now. And it’s a great pleasure for us to be able to accompany TU Graz on its path to climate neutrality by 2030. Together, we’re living out the meaning of climate protection and thereby making tangible contributions to avoiding negative impacts on the environment and people. To this end, we offer both leisure travellers and business travellers many destinations with attractive connections and offers at home and abroad.”
Train adventure: next generations on the rails
ÖBB and TU Graz are aware of their exemplary role in climate protection and are already getting future generations on board today. As part of the cooperation, children, parents and caregivers of TU Graz’s own childcare facility nanoversity are invited to the ÖBB train school. In workshops and on a trial ride, the little ones learn how trains work and what there is to discover at Graz Central Station.
Stay grounded, but keep connected
According to the motto “Stay grounded, but keep connected”, TU Graz is striving for a cultural change among its employees in order to reduce the number of business trips or the CO2 emissions resulting from business trips. Where it makes sense and is possible, video conferences replace business trips. Air travel by staff members is kept to a minimum. A dedicated climate protection contribution is collected per booked flight. For travel within Europe, rail is preferable to air and car. Employees can access their individual carbon footprints via their own monitoring tools – and win in the process. As part of the cooperation, ÖBB sponsors attractive trips for employees of TU Graz who are travelling in a particularly climate-friendly way.
All information on the project “Climate neutral TU Graz 2030” and on all other measures of the roadmap, for example in the areas of energy or materials, can be found at >> klimaneutrale.tugraz.at
*The GHG balance of TU Graz for 2020 only shows 860 t CO2e for this area, but is not reliable as a baseline value because of the limited travel due to the pandemic.