Planning Holidays for a Future
Obviously, the further you travel and the more frequently, the more damaging your footprint, especially if you are flying or driving by yourself, the most energy-intensive options. It’s worth being aware that because take-off and descent are energy-intensive, flying has a higher carbon footprint than a medium car over distances less than 1000 km but further than that driving alone actually does more damage than flying.
So, what to do about holidays?
Flying now seems normal but it has taken off only in the last few decades. Globally 80% of the population has never flown and in the UK half of the population don’t fly in a given year. Along with the growth in SUVs, the growth in aviation is challenging our commitment to save ourselves; e.g. a return flight to Los Angeles emits 2.28 tonnes yet to be sustainable (and nobody wants the chaos changing the climate is bringing) we need to reduce our entire annual footprint to 2.2 tonnes CO2 equivalent pa!
Offsetting? Well, no. Saplings that are planted to ‘offset’ your flight won’t be big enough to trap all your carbon for many, many years. Meanwhile, those emissions keep warming and damaging the planet whilst whole forests of offsetting trees have already been lost to drought and wildfires. Whatever way you ‘offset’ your flight, your greenhouse gases will still be doing damage in the atmosphere for centuries.
The good news though is that train travel is enjoying a come-back and more and more sleeper trains are being reinstated across Europe. Train travel in countries with low carbon grids such as France has a very, very low impact. My daughter and I are going to the Camargue: my return Eurostar trip to Avignon emits just 14kg of CO2 compared to a 20 times bigger flying footprint (0.29 tonnes return from Bournemouth to Avignon).
If you fear that there is too much inertia, that you don’t make any difference or that it might damage the economy, consider how much change and upheaval there has been in how we travel and the associated industries (horses and bikes to vehicles, trains to planes), and how we have powered our lives over the years. Change always starts slowly and then suddenly races into the mainstream. (Consider the meteoric rise in online shopping over the last decade or so).
Better still, as holidays have high social visibility, by choosing not to fly you not only reduce your own carbon footprint but also send a signal to your friends and family (and yourself!) that the climate crisis is real. A survey showed that half of the respondents who knew someone who has given up flying because of climate change said they fly less because of this example https://theconversation.com/climate-change-yes-your-individual-action-does-make-a-difference-115169
Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future
Enjoy your next holiday by train! Plan with: www.seat61.com – an excellent online guide to train travel.
Global Climate Strike 12-1 on Friday 3 March 2023, outside Milborne Port Town Hall. Join us to stand up for a safe future for us all!