UC Berkeley Business Air Travel Carbon Mitigation Program

Business Air Travel Carbon Mitigation Program

About 

UC Berkeley’s Business Air Travel Carbon Mitigation Program mitigates the high environmental impacts of our business air travel by investing in campus programs that reduce the campus carbon footprint!

Air travel represents the second largest source of carbon emissions on campus! In a typical year, the UC Berkeley community takes more than 32,000 trips, traveling over 100 million miles on business, emitting 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from those trips each year!  Although faculty, staff and students are seeking opportunities to lessen the emissions associated with their business air travel, air travel continues to be an important part of academia.

By assigning a small fee to UC Berkeley business air travel trips taken ($10 per domestic trip and $25 per offshore/ international trip) the program will invest in innovative and necessary campus projects that will save the campus money and reduce its carbon footprint. The program also includes efforts to help UC Berkeley reduce the need or find more sustainable alternatives to air travel while still supporting our mission. 

The UC Berkeley Office of Sustainability is sponsoring and managing this program. The design of this program has been done in consultation with the Travel Office, IT, financial groups and more. Stakeholder engagement and feedback has included the Chancellor’s Cabinet, Academic Deans, Academic Senate committee CAPRA, and Chief Administrative Officers. The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability formally endorsed the program.

Questions can be directed to sustainability@berkeley.edu.

How it works 

The Business Air Carbon Travel Mitigation Program is designed so UC Berkeley business travelers can continue to book flights with no changes to the booking or reimbursement process. 

The Business Air Travel Mitigation Program assigns a small fee to UC Berkeley business air travel trips taken ($10 per domestic round trip and $25 per offshore/ international round trip) 

  • The fee is only assessed to eligible air travel trips that are funded by UC- managed dollars. 

  • A trip may represent a number of legs/ stops but the fee is only assessed once for a trip.

  • The fees correspond roughly with the cost of carbon in the current California Cap & Trade program and the average emissions of a domestic and international Berkeley air trip. To keep pace with the rising cost of carbon, following year 3 of the program, the fee will be raised to $11 and $26 and periodically thereafter. 

Below are details about how the fee is assessed.

All campus units: The carbon mitigation fee is assessed to trips booked with unrestricted funds via the travel report system. This assessment began in October 2022. When the travel report (via the Travel Office reporting system) is submitted for air travel trips booked with unrestricted funds, the fee ($10 for domestic trips, $25 for offshore/international trips) is assessed to the chartstring that the air travel was booked with. Programming in the travel report system will manage this transaction.

Opt in units: Campus departments can opt into covering the costs of the carbon mitigation fee for trips that are booked with restricted funds. Fees associated with air trips booked with restricted funds will be assessed once annually to opt-in units, at the end of each calendar year, based on the previous year’s air trips.  The first fee assessment to opt-in units will come in January 2023 for trips booked from January 1-December 31, 2022. We still welcome other departments to join by opting into paying the fee for trips booked with restricted funds.  

A special thank you to the 21 units who have opted to pay the fee for all flights. Departments that are interested in participating in the UC Berkeley Business Air Travel Carbon Mitigation for both restricted and unrestricted funds but are not listed in the link above, should contact the Office of Sustainability for more information. Questions can be directed to sustainability@berkeley.edu

What carbon- reducing projects will be implemented?  

Fees collected from the UC Berkeley Air Travel Carbon Mitigation Program will be invested on-campus for innovative and necessary projects and will benefit many members of the UC Berkeley community! Funded projects are selected by their carbon and energy conservation benefits along with other criteria such as contributions to improved collaboration and inclusion in campus sustainability. The Office of Sustainability manages the fund, including selecting projects and tracking progress. 

This program allows UC Berkeley to implement innovative and necessary projects that otherwise have limited funding sources. Some of these projects will save the campus money, particularly those that reduce energy use or the need to travel.

Example of Projects: 

  • Retrofitting lab equipment to reduce energy consumption, including replacement of older low-temperature freezers.

  • Supporting on -site solar PV and battery storage installations

  • Promoting alternative methods to meet or travel other than air (e.g., funding video conferencing licenses, equipment for hybrid meetings on campus) 

  • Installing EV charging capabilities and incentivizing electrification of the campus fleet

  • Other carbon reduction initiatives such as behavioral or communications campaigns 

Projects will be selected based on carbon savings and other criteria listed in the Project Scoring Matrix, including equity and collaboration.

Projects will be scored based on the following criteria, weighted to prioritize carbon savings.

  • CO2 reduced: Project demonstrates quantitatively and qualitatively verifiable short and long- term GHG reductions of the overall campus footprint

  • Innovation: Project is novel in concept, idea, or process that can revolutionize campus decarbonization

  • Engagement: Project includes long- term strategy to maximize awareness of project’s benefits through specific means and mediums to a wide- ranging audience

  • Inclusion & Collaboration: Project includes well- defined working structure which includes interdisciplinary stakeholders**

  • Diversity & Equity: Project includes social benefits for a wide population and advances campus diversity and environmental justice**

**In alignment with UC Berkeley’s Strategic Plan, the Campus Sustainability Plan, and the Regents Policy 4400, projects that counter the effects of climate change, foster diversity and sustainability, and promote environmental justice will be prioritized for funding.

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Communications Toolkit:

Click here to view the communications toolkit, containing distribution materials and additional resources.

FAQ:

Click here to read the UC Berkeley Business Air Travel Carbon Mitigation Program FAQ -- view commonly asked and answered questions about funded projects, fee transactions, partners, and resources & communication.