IfW Kiel: Climate researcher doesn't want to travel back to Germany by plane - and is fired

The Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in Kiel has fired an employee because he did not want to return to Germany as quickly as possible from his research trip in the Pacific.

IfW Kiel: Climate researcher doesn't want to travel back to Germany by plane - and is fired

The Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in Kiel has fired an employee because he did not want to return to Germany as quickly as possible from his research trip in the Pacific. The Scientist Rebellion movement reports this in a statement that is available to Stern. At the end of September, the IfW asked the economist Gianluca Grimalda to be back in Kiel within five days, it says. Grimalda would have had to get on a plane for that. But the researcher refused because of the high environmental impact. Instead, he plans to travel back by cargo ships, ferries, trains and buses. He also used these means of transport to set off on his research trip to the Pacific.

"I plan to travel 39,000 km by land and sea instead of flying to reduce my carbon footprint. My trip will reduce CO2 emissions by 6.7 tonnes compared to flying, although it will still be 2 "emits .7 tons," the researcher wrote on the platform X (formerly Twitter) in February.

In the statement from the group Scientist Rebellion, which Grimalda has also joined, the scientist explained that he is currently not teaching and can also hold his work meetings online. His presence in Kiel is therefore not necessary.

The researcher was originally supposed to be back in Kiel in September. However, his field research in Papua New Guinea lasted two months longer than planned. However, the IfW demanded that Grimalda return immediately. "I tried to negotiate. I would be prepared to forego my salary for the entire duration of the trip. The institute did not accept that," says the scientist in an interview with "Zeit".

When asked by Stern, the IfW expressed caution. To protect employees, an IfW spokeswoman said in writing that it was not possible to comment on internal personnel matters. However, the institute has always supported its “slow travel” activities. The spokeswoman left it open why the institute was now making an exception, but made it clear: "When it comes to business trips, the institute supports its employees in traveling in a climate-friendly manner. We largely avoid air travel within the country and in other EU countries as far as we can."

In an interview with “Zeit”, Grimalda said that the institute had offered him to pay the CO2 compensation for the flight. He rejected that. There is increasing evidence that these programs do little to reduce emissions. "Basically, they're dangerous because they give a false sense of security," Grimalda said.

He received a lot of support and support from colleagues at the institute, but also internationally. Julia Steinberg, lead author of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and a climate researcher at the University of Lausanne, described the institute's decision as "shocking".

Gianluca Grimalda says he travels as climate-friendly as possible. He has just completed his six months of field research in Papua New Guinea. He examined the connections between globalization, climate change and social cohesion.

In addition to his research, Grimalda is also involved in the group Scientist Rebellion. Last October he took part in a gluing campaign in Wolfsburg. Grimalda suspects that this could also be a reason for the termination.

Sources: Scientist Rebellion, Zeit Online, X(Twitter), Leibniz Magazine

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