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No excuse not to: UC hosts Canberra's first carbon-neutral conference

Elly Mackay

8 December 2022: In a promising move for the future of sustainability in the ACT, the University of Canberra hosted the Territory’s first-ever government-certified, carbon-neutral event this week – the Out of the Ordinary poetry conference.

The conference, which secured certification as a carbon-neutral event by Climate Active, provided vegetarian-only catering, recycling where possible, and the offsetting of all excess emissions.

Climate Active is the Australian Government body tasked with certifying the climate sustainability of organisations, products, and events.

"There is no longer any excuse for public events to damage the environment we live in and love,” said Dr Paul Magee, event organiser from the University’s Faculty of Arts and Design.

The conference featured a series of public poetry readings in the University of Canberra’s iconic UFO courtyard (home to Futuro House), including over 60 papers on poetry and poetics, and a celebration  of James Joyce’s utterly strange last book, Finnegans Wake at O’Malley’s Irish Pub in Civic.

“Creative artists and scholars can and should lead the community on these matters, showing how easy it is to reduce emissions, and offsetting any that cannot yet be reduced,” Dr Magee said.

“This is the first carbon-neutral conference in Canberra, but I know it won’t be the last. The new normal is carbon-neutral.”

Dr Magee said many of the emissions – over 50 per cent – for a conference or business event come from attendees’ travel to and from the event.

For Out of the Ordinary, attendees were asked to offset their method of travel, with their payment going to a lighting upgrade project.

“Our offsets take the form of a payment to a project that involves modifying, replacing, and supplementing the lighting system of a range of serviced areas,” Dr Magee said.

The energy rating of the buildings housing the conference were also taken into consideration.

The Out of the Ordinary poetry conference saw 108 attendees visit the University over three days, from December 5-7.