The ACM is studying the question and has a mailing-list on the topic, acm-climate (the archives are available when you subscribe). ACM has a Carbon Offset Program allowing voluntary conferences to offset their CO2 emissions via Cool Effect, and proposes a CO2 footprint calculator (openly available after logging in with a Google account).
The ACM special interest group SIGPLAN has been a leader in the discussion: they have formed a Climate Committee in 2017. They have plenty of resources about the environmental footprint of academia and ways to reduce it, and have been initiating many of ACM’s steps in these directions. They recently requested that ACM should require its conferences to measure their carbon footprint, and should charge conferences based on this footprint, to encourage them to reduce it.
Another call to reform within ACM is Moshe Vardi’s piece Publish and Perish in Communications of the ACM, calling for all ACM conferences to allow remote talks given over video for authors who do not wish to travel.
Initiatives about flying less in academia
There is a great collection of links in Flying Less in Academia: A Resource Guide. One notable initiative is Scientists for Future’s “unter 1000” campaign to pledge not to travel by flight for short distances, ZeroEmissionUniversity’s pledge, and the FlyingLess Academic Flying Blog and No Fly Climate Sci website.
There is a French initiative, Labos 1point5, which aims at reducing the footprint of research activities (not restricted to computer science).
If you are aware of other initiatives to reduce the climate footprint of research in theoretical computer science or in academia more generally, we can add it to this list! Please don’t hesitate to contact us .