A climate researcher at risk of being fired from a prestigious German company for refusing to fly back from Papua New Guinea

I should be back in Germany on October 2nd. He is currently in Papua New Guinea, where he is scheduled to embark on October 8 on a freighter for his long journey to Europe.

Climatologist Gianluca Grimalta says he is at risk of losing his position at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (Kiel Institut für Weltwirtschaft) in Germany for refusing to use an airplane as a means of transport when returning from Papua New Guinea.

After his research trip, Grimalda plans to return to Germany without flying in order to reduce his carbon footprint by 90%, preferring to travel by ferry, bus, train and freighter.

However, he said the agency had given him three days’ notice to return by October 2, which would have forced him to fly, according to a statement released by climate group Scientist Rebellion.

Grimalda told CNN that the Kiel Institute told him to “wait for a second notice on Kiel to fly/wait for a request to appear on the plane” and that when he didn’t return, they would “issue a letter of termination” when he didn’t show up for a second. time..

His September salary was not paid and his proposal for unpaid leave was rejected, he added in a statement.

The Kiel Institute told CNN that it “doesn’t comment publicly on internal employee issues,” but that “when traveling for work, the company helps its employees travel in an environmentally friendly way.”

When asked about Grimalda’s claim that she had not been paid her September salary, the Keel Institute said only that it would not comment publicly “for the protection of staff, as an internal private matter.”

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An experimental economist and activist in the Scientist Rebellion, Grimalda spent six months conducting fieldwork in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, studying the relationship between globalization, climate change and social integration.

Authorization to travel to Grimalda expired on September 10, but his trial took longer than initially expected due to a number of security threats – in one instance he was taken hostage by a group armed with knives and all his possessions were confiscated, the scientist says. Statement of Rebellion.

As the climate crisis intensifies, the impact of aviation has come under increasing scrutiny. Commercial aviation is responsible for 2.5% of global CO2 emissions each year, and demand for aircraft – and emissions – is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. Alternatively, climate activists like Greta Thunberg have developed eco-friendly modes of travel, such as by boat or train.

“I am prepared to face all the legal and economic consequences of this decision,” Grimalda said in a statement. “Ultimately, this is also a mental health issue. My psychological condition can only be described as climate anxiety, and flying can exacerbate this condition.”

Earlier this year, Grimalda, who hails from Germany, took 35 days to reach Papua New Guinea, traveling 15,000 kilometers by land to Singapore before catching a flight for the second leg of the journey.

He is currently in Papua New Guinea before leaving on a freighter on October 8 for his long journey to Germany.

Laura Pattison contributed to this article

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