International travel

Global air travel has almost doubled in ten years, from 2.2 billion passengers per year in 2008 to 4.2 billion in 2018. Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The UK has particularly high aviation carbon dioxide emissions per capita, accounting for 4% of global emissions from flights. Flying is particularly damaging for the environment because emissions at high altitudes from burning jet fuel and from soot and water vapour have a greater environmental impact than emissions at ground level. 

As a global university we attract students and staff from around the world and our academics travel for international conferences and meetings, as well as to conduct research, all of which generates demand for more flights. International flights are currently core to our business model. We need to reduce flights and to address emissions from aviation. 

In 2018/19, staff flying on University business emitted an estimated 30,000 tonnes of carbon, and international students travelling to Oxford to study produced an estimated 21,000 tonnes more. These figures exclude emissions from visitors invited to collaborate or attend conferences in Oxford. 

The University will develop and implement a Travel Policy which incorporates a Travel Hierarchy for all domestic and international travel for staff and students as follows:

  • avoid travel;
  • reduce travel demand to and from the University;
  • travel without flying;
  • fly when there are no alternatives and offset these emissions through the Oxford Sustainability Fund.

To find out more, visit University of Oxford Travel website or download our Business Travel Toolkit

Our commitments

  • Agree the extent of University staff and student flights to be calculated and report on these emissions annually.
  • Roll out a large-scale engagement programme to encourage use of the Travel Policy across departments.
  • Set a target to reduce flights.
  • Levy a sustainability charge on business flights to contribute to the Oxford Sustainability Fund.
  • Offset emissions from all business and international student flights, starting from the 2034/35 financial year.