Climate scientist claims he might be fired for refusing to return from research trip by plane

A climate researcher has claimed that his job is in jeopardy because of his insistence on not traveling by jet airliner for the sake of the planet.

Climate scientist Dr. Gianluca Grimalda alleged that the Kiel Institute for the World Economy has warned him that he may be fired if he does not return to Germany from Papua New Guinea within the next couple of days.

Grimalda however, has refused to return that quickly as it would require flying by jet, which he believes is a huge harm to the environment.


A scientist and member of the activist group Scientist Rebellion alleged that his employer has threatened to fire him for not returning home from the field by jet airliner. (Picture Alliance)

A member of climate activist group Scientist Rebellion, Grimalda provided details of his predicament in a lengthy thread on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

“I have thus completed my fieldwork. I have collected 1814 observations from 30 villages to study how exposure to globalisation and climate change affects egalitarianism in non-industrialised societies. I should be rejoiced, instead I am terribly sad,” Grimalda wrote. “I am sad that my employer @kielinstitute sent me a warning to return to Kiel next Monday. They want me to catch a plane, to which I morally object, because my fieldwork lasted 2 months longer than expected. If I don’t comply with this warning, I’ll be fired,” Grimalda wrote. 

Grimalda provided more details, stating, “My employer has a point in willing me to go back asap. But there’s *nothing* I must do in Kiel I can’t do while traveling. I offered to go on unpaid leave for as long as they like, so they won’t be responsible for whatever happens to me in the journey. But they refused.”

In a subsequent post, the researcher added that he is committed to not flying because of the “promise” he made to villagers “in my awareness talks that I’d minimize my emissions on my return to Europe.”

To get back home, Grimalda plans to use cargo ships, ferries, and trains. 


Climate activists

Climate change activist group called “The Last Generation” posted a video on Twitter of an activists being dragged off of a road.  (Twitter/screenshot)

In a document laying out his thoughts, Grimalda wrote, “last Friday the President of my Institute and the administrative director set me an ultimatum: I should be in Kiel next Monday or I’ll be fired. Being in Kiel on Monday [Oct. 2] means catching a plane, something they know I despise. Travelling by plane would produce around 4 tons of CO2 –the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.”

In a statement that Grimalda provided Fox News Digital, the researcher alleged that his employer told “me explicitly that they will issue two warnings for me to be in Germany, otherwise they will issue the termination of my contract. I have already failed one warning. The second is still to come.”

Grimalda also told Fox that his employer has stopped paying his salary without telling him in September. 

“I am still baffled and outraged by their behaviour – especially for what concerns their failure in notifying me they’d stop the payment of my salary in September. One third of my salary goes to the payment of the medical assistance of my mum who suffers from dementia in Italy, I need that money,” he said. 

When asked if him being worried about not being paid is inconsistent with his offer to go on unpaid leave, he told Fox, “without my institute salary I’m struggling to my ends meet.” He noted that if his employer had “at least told me they’d stop paying me” he would have taken preparations, including “immediately” selling off some shares he has.

He added that he believes that “conscientious objection to flying should be recognized as a valid reason for employees not to use airplanes as a means of travel. This is especially the case for people, like me, who experience climate grief and climate anxiety.”

The Kiel Institute told Fox News Digital that it doesn’t comment on “internal personnel matters in public.” They added they support employees traveling in a “climate-friendly manner.” 

Grimalda has been a part of controversial climate protests in the past. The scientist, who joined several other Scientist Rebellion protestors in gluing themselves to the floor of a Volkswagen-owned factory last year, was arrested by German police for the stunt.


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