A man communicates with a colleague visible on a screen on a mobile, two-wheeled scooter.
Rick Madonik

A staff member from PricewaterhouseCoopers in Toronto, waving to a team member from Prague. The mobile, two-wheeled scooter can travel around the office so that the staff member from Prague can converse and meet with other people in the Toronto office at will.


Reduce SourcesTransportationShift to Alternatives
CO2 Equivalent
Reduced / Sequestered
Billion $US
Net First Cost
(To Implement Solution)
Trillion $US
Lifetime Net
Operational Savings
Telepresence integrates high-performance visual, audio, and network technologies, so people can interact across geographies. It cuts down on travel—especially flying—and its emissions.

Solution Summary*

Nothing beats face-to-face contact, but telepresence aims to come exceptionally close. By integrating a set of high-performance visual, audio, and network technologies and services, people who are geographically separated can interact in a way that captures many of the best aspects of an in-person experience.

When it is possible to exist and function remotely, the need to travel becomes less necessary. In a world of global-business footprints and international collaboration, if people can work together without being in the same place, they can dodge a host of travel-related emissions.

Telepresence now comes to life in a variety of ways and a diversity of settings. From companies and schools to hospitals and museums, virtual interaction is opening new possibilities. Using a mobile telepresence robot, a surgeon can advise on a rare procedure in real time, without traveling from Austin to Amman, for example. Or, executives in telepresence conference rooms in Sydney and Singapore can debate a possible acquisition without taking a single flight.

Telepresence affords many other benefits: cost savings from avoided travel, less grueling schedules for employees, more productive remote meetings, the ability to make decisions more quickly, and enhanced interpersonal connection across geographies.

* excerpted from the book, Drawdown

By avoiding emissions from business air travel, telepresence can reduce emissions by 1–3.8 gigaton of carbon dioxide over 30 years. That result assumes that more than 486–676 million business-related trips are replaced by telepresence in 2050. For organizations, the investment of US$104–366 billion in telepresence systems pays off with US$1.2–4.4 trillion worth of business travel savings and 107–143 billion fewer unproductive travel hours.

Note: August 2021 corrections appear in boldface.