In two weeks time I am due to fly to Rome for a weekend away. At first I was really excited but as the trip has approached I have felt increasingly guilty over the flight and the carbon emissions this will result in. This feeling of guilt due to flying has become a more common occurrence, with the Swedes even having a specific word for it “flygskam” which literally translates as “flight shame”. I have come to realise that as the climate crisis only worsens we have to make tough choices and to fly less has now become an obvious choice to me.
The recent devastating bushfires in Australia are only a sign of what the climate crisis will bring. As events like this become more frequent and closer to home it is clear that governments and big corporations are not acting fast enough. They are not making significant changes quick enough to limit the crisis. It is now down to us as citizens to make changes. Choosing to fly less is one thing we need to do.
Airlines and airports are making changes and increasing their sustainability, but there will always be carbon emissions from these industries. Additionally, carbon offsetting has become a means for people to ease their guilt over flying. You simply pay a small amount and apparently the carbon emissions would be gone. I found to offset my flight to Rome would simply cost £3. However, these are all second best to just simply taking less flights. Offsetting carbon emissions only goes so far and to really reduce our emissions we have to fly less.
However, to fly less fills me with sadness, there are so many places I want to see in this world, a large majority involve a flight to get to. There are large culture experiences that could be missed out if we stop flying entirely. This is why the best option is to stop making unnecessary flights, not flights all together. Where alternatives modes of transport are an option take them.
Travelling has to become part of the trip. For example, while taking the train may seem like a waste of time make the time you spend on travelling part of the trip. My interrail experience on the European train system was some of the best travelling I have ever done. It was a two week holiday with no flights and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Similarly, companies and employers have to allow more time to get to meetings. For example, a businessman based in London with a meeting in Edinburgh shouldn’t have to fly there and back in a day but take the train and spend a night there. Alternatives modes of transport may seem like a waste of time but it can be incredibly rewarding and is now a necessity.
So while it may seem tough and sad to lose what flying gives us, but the climate crisis is real and only becoming more dangerous. It is too late to wait for industries and governments to make changes for us. We have to take responsibility ourselves to protect the planet. That means we have to fly less for the sake of the environment.
Image Credit: CNN