Interpreting and CO2

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Reducing the environmental impact of almost 8 billion people living on the planet constitutes today, more than ever, a vitally important priority.

Interpreting in itself leaves but the slightest “footprint” on the environment from the carbon dioxide produced by interpreters as they breathe, even if these emissions may potentially exceed those of a person watching television. The same is not true, however, for the numerous trips that interpreters take.

Calliope Interpreters, the global network of Consultant Conference Interpreters, and ELIT Language Services are perhaps the first conference interpreting service provider (CSIP) in the world to adopt a policy for the environment. In this context, 24 Consultant Conference Interpreters, members of Calliope Interpreters, collected and analysed data pertaining to interpreter travel for 1,400 conferences and meetings held in 50 countries during 2018, for which Calliope Interpreters organised interpretation.

The processing of the data collected yielded valuable information related to pollution.  Aeroplane represents the most polluting  mode of transportation, accounting for 59 tonnes of carbon dioxide; followed by car at 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide and, finally, trains at 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

In the context of the ELIT Language Service’s environmental policy, interpreters are encouraged to choose modes of transportation with the least possible effects on the environment. Drastic actions to reduce pollution include reducing distances travelled by interpreters, travel using mass transportation as opposed to cars, car pooling and, of course, distance interpreting.