Flight shame movement started in Sweden during 2018 that gained traction the following year throughout northern Europe, the anti-flying movement aka flygskam in Swedish means “flight shame”. The movement discourages people from flying to lower carbon emissions while travelling so that they can contribute for a better cause to fight the climate change act.
How did the flight shame movement begin?
Flight shame movement got much attention when a Swedish singer, Staffan Lindberg, reported to have coined the term in the year 2017, Bjorn Ferry an Olympic athlete happens to be the first notable champions of the concept. Malena Ernman, an opera singer and the mother of teenage girl Greta Thunberg (17-year-old climate change activists) made it public that they would stop opting for flights when it comes to travel.
The movement got popular after Thunberg gained recognition when she went on strike to protest her government’s inaction on climate change, her movement against climate change has sparked a series of demonstrations across the globe. Her most recent strike (September 20th) drew an estimate of 4 million people around the world!
What changes can flight shame movement bring in?
Though the movement alone wouldn’t bring in much difference in fighting the climate change, the change would be effective if there are evident stories that arise on day to day basis. Here’s a small figure on how much of carbon dioxide emission is responsible per passenger while s/he travels one way:
To encourage and make the route visible to the global travelers, Thunberg refused to fly to New York to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September. Few news channels also share the route of train that she takes to travel across Europe.
What can be learned from countries like Sweden, Germany and other few European nations, they tend to reduce domestic flights and give preference to the alternatives, i.e. rail travel and electric car rentals so that bringing the climate change movement into action is met easily and effectively.
A participant of Flygskam movement wrote “I read that emissions from flying equals to that of car traffic.” The person also mentioned “if people are now acting on worries that flying is frying the planet, shouldn’t they also come to the same conclusion about driving?
Soon “drive shaming” would also be a movement to make use of electric vehicles or choose alternatives like cycling. Though the possibility to make electric cars available in all countries is dependent on the internal politics and efforts to make recharging points available at affordable spaces, as per the data, electric vehicles only account for 1.5% of newly registered passenger vehicles in the EU.
EU Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen presented her European Green Deal on December 11, 2019. After analyzing it thoroughly, a European research and campaign group warned that much more alterations and improvements are to be carried out if the EU wants to fully decarbonize transport, and transition to a net-zero economy by 2050.
What can you do to chuck ‘Flight Shame’ guilt?
Though there are biased opinion about flight shaming as not every country can easily adapt such changes in short span of time. The change has to come from within where more and more people are aware how much of CO2 emission they cause while they catch a flight, yet they can help in opting other means of travelling and take actions like:
Plan well before travelling
Its essential to calculate how much time you have to travel, if it’s an emergency or you have short vacation or you need to attend a meeting that has just been set up and can’t ignore. These could be the reason where you can opt for travelling via flight. However, if you have time to travel you can choose alternative like Bus, Train or self-drive using electric cars. Though you may need to check charging points available along your route.
Ask a Local
Quite often you can access the destination you desired to go using public transport too, if you spend time researching about the place and asking locals about the transport system, you may opt for public transport which could be affordable too.
Ditch Single Use Plastic
CEO of adventure travel company Intrepid Travel gives a few suggestions that can help you overcome flight shamming guilt by swapping single-use plastics for a reusable cup or bottle, carrying a fabric bag and even a portable water purifier while travelling would be a great effort to Ditch Plastics.
A study by Centre for International Environmental Law1 earlier this year predicted that the production and incineration of plastic would pump more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2019, which is equivalent of the emissions from 189 five-hundred-megawatt coal power plants.
Catch Direct Flight
When you can’t avoid flight travel, opt for flights that are direct to your destination. As carbon emission is more while taking off and landing, logically you would be contributing more if you happen to opt for a connecting flight rather than a direct one.
ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) has developed a methodology (carbon footprint calculator) to calculate the carbon dioxide emissions from air travel, it allows passengers to estimate the emissions attributed to their air travel, which requires limited information: Number of person travelling, Departure & Landing Airports, and the type of ticket i.e. economy, business class or first class.