Inne Vanderkelen / PhD researcher

Vrije Universiteit Brussel / Climatology

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In our daily activities as climate scientists, we see the importance of keeping global warming well below 1.5°C every day in our climate model simulations.
Therefore, I try to live in a carbon conscious way. My partner and I chose to live in Brussels, the city we both work in. I do my daily commute by bike. By cycling in Brussels, I am not only avoiding emissions from a car, but also avoiding the emission of fine particles contributing to air pollution, a great co-benefit. As Brussels is a publi transport hub, I am a frequent user of public transport. Without owing a car, I can get to wherever I have to go. I do this in a multi-modal way, using combination of all types of public transport, including bike and car sharing systems like Blue Bike and Cambio. Furthermore, I don’t take planes for trips within Europe. I consciously choose to travel by train. Likewise, 2018 was a planeless year, yet with many international trips (and a low carbon cycling holiday). Concerning my diet, I eat vegetarian most of the times and avoid beef. At home, we are connected to the most green energy supplier in the city, which is not yet completely green, but the best for the moment. Also our investments are made in green funds and I save money in an ethical bank.

In our research department, I am leading the green team, with which we implement ‘green actions’ at work, going from energy saving to advocating a flying policy (with success). We share a lot of best practices among colleagues as well. Finally, with our research group, we give talks in public events and schools, to inform society about climate science. I see this as one of the core tasks of a climate scientist: getting the science out to the public and making the facts about climate change common sense.
In my opinion, one of the main challenges we face in Belgium is the waste of space and urban sprawl.. When we would live denser, this would result in climate and environmental benefits. A more dense living pattern will increase the accessibility of services and hence decrease the need for transport. It will positively impact our direct living environment by facilitating the organization of public transport and a sharing economy. Last but not least, it will free space for real nature.