06. – 09. Juli 2021, Dagstuhl-Seminar 21272

Towards Climate-Friendly Internet Research


Vaibhav Bajpai (TU München, DE)
Jon Crowcroft (University of Cambridge, GB)
Oliver Hohlfeld (BTU Cottbus, DE)
Srinivasan Keshav (University of Cambridge, GB)

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The Internet was originally developed to ease collaboration between remote parties, thereby, in principle, reducing carbon emissions by a reduced need for travel. Yet, conducting research on communication networks has typically involved a certain level of carbon footprint. One fundamental reason is the publication and dissemination culture in the field, which focuses on conferences and workshops rather than journals. Not only does every dissemination of a research result therefore involves travel, even the peer-review process to decide which papers to accept, in the form of an in-person technical program committee (TPC) meeting, also requires travel. Moreover, although the standardization of Internet technology within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) largely involves online discussions and audio/video streaming--unlike almost all other standardization bodies-yet regular in-person meetings are considered critical to converge discussion and build consensus. Thus, conducting and disseminating networking research has resulted in a high level of travel, and a consequent high carbon footprint.

The carbon footprint of these trips (mostly air travel) can, however, be reduced by means of organizational changes and virtual conferences. Recently, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have already witnessed a rapid transition to a virtual mode of operation including remote working, online meetings, and virtual conferences. This has resulted in first-hand experience in carrying out research but with no travel.

In this Dagstuhl Seminar, we initiated a discussion on how to make Internet research more climate friendly. Specifically, we evaluated experiences in running and participating in virtual conferences as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to understand what went well and what went badly in implementing and deploying virtual conferences, what challenges were encountered, and what needs to be improved, particularly as we transition to hybrid in-person, online meetings. The broader goal of the seminar is to identify how to transition to a new status quo that continues to reduce the carbon footprint from travel.


The seminar lasted 2.5 days. It began with an introductory round where each participant presented one slide to give an overview of their experience that was relevant for the seminar and a set of open questions that the participant wished to discuss during the event. These slides were collected from each participant before the seminar. We also had one invited talk that we used as a basis for triggering discussions and identifying areas for group work, while a major portion of the seminar time was dedicated to breakout sessions, whereby participants were split into small groups to discuss specific themes and develop ideas with consensus to propose to larger groups. The morning sessions the following day were dedicated to continuing parallel group work with presentations that reported the outcomes of each breakout session from the previous day. Every evening, we had an online social activity. The afternoon of the third day was spent reviewing and collecting feedback from the participants and for initiating follow up actions identified during the seminar.

Summary text license
  Creative Commons BY 4.0
  Vaibhav Bajpai, Jon Crowcroft, Oliver Hohlfeld, and Srinivasan Keshav


  • Networking And Internet Architecture


  • Carbon-footprint
  • Energy efficient networking
  • Climate-change


In der Reihe Dagstuhl Reports werden alle Dagstuhl-Seminare und Dagstuhl-Perspektiven-Workshops dokumentiert. Die Organisatoren stellen zusammen mit dem Collector des Seminars einen Bericht zusammen, der die Beiträge der Autoren zusammenfasst und um eine Zusammenfassung ergänzt.


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