feeling guilty again ; It was 2017 and he had a great holiday. But then came Hurricane Harvey – he and his family narrowly survived the floods that killed more than 100 people.
- “That natural disaster helped to put things in perspective,” he said.
Formerly a regular flyer, visiting friends in Scotland and going on holiday abroad, he says the penny dropped during the trip. And in the end, the decision was simple.
feeling guilty again
- “It was free to say I no longer do it,” he said. “I knew that what I was doing was not in line with what I thought was right.”
- You are one of a small group of people who have found flying to be uncomfortable.
- Many people still board flights, but struggle with growing feelings of shame.
They now feel that their dream of a holiday in the sun or a distant adventure plays a small but undeniable part in the growing problem of extreme weather events, rising sea levels and the melting of Polish ice.
Flight is responsible for about 2% of land clearing. That may not sound like much, but when you fly it, it is a very high carbon footprint. That is because more than 80% of the world’s population have never flown.
- One flight from London to New York emits about 1,360kg of carbon. Even if you eat vegan and go all over the place, you can still strive to make the return trip.
- That’s the kind of statistics that have persuaded Maggie Robertson to sign for Flight Free, an online club, where members promise to avoid flying each year.
Anna Hughes, its founder, says she doesn’t want to make people feel guilty about flying, but she would like them to know better.
Air travel should go back to the preservation of the rich
“We are not suggesting that air travel should go back to the preservation of the rich. But we should start seeing it once and for all, if necessary, not just going to Prague to get a stag do,” he said.
- Last month, however, the government told us it was best to continue flying.
Saving the planet was not a waste of resources, it was done differently, said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, announcing the government’s zoning plan. You have raised the prospect of more efficient, hydrogen-powered, battery-powered, and fuel-efficient aircraft.
- That is the view of the broader aviation industry, that air travel is becoming more and more clean and green, thanks to a technology march.
“The industry has come up with a clear plan for the division of aircraft, and there are many opportunities and proven technologies that can do just that,” said Andy Jefferson, program director at an organization called Sustainable Aviation, which works on behalf of government and industry, including manufacturers and airports.
Emergence of existing airlines
“Part of the solution will be the emergence of existing airlines, as each time they land online, they are 15% to 20% more efficient and better than the aircraft they change,” he said.
In addition, things like making sure the aircraft does not carry more fuel or water than it needs, not keeping planes in gripping patterns as they wait to land, and keeping engines well-maintained to make sure they work properly, can all make green aircraft.
- In time, planes may stop using fossil fuels altogether, Mr Jefferson said.
“With regard to battery-powered aircraft and hydrogen-powered aircraft, the industry has already acquired two-seater aircraft, with five seats flying today,” he said.
In the mid-2030s, Mr. Jefferson believes that it is possible to take vacations to Med in that type of aircraft or to use solid fuel from waste or plants.
Does that mean that people can fly with a clear conscience?
The problem with the message, “Go on with your life, we solve it,” said Anna Hughes, is rather “promise-hard”.
In the past, gains in the efficiency of new aircraft and better flight management have been swallowed up by a significant increase in air traffic volume, so that the entire aircraft is more efficient than ever before.
- And many experts are skeptical of the industry’s optimism about how fast renewable fuel will be.
- At the moment, they say, environmentalists, when flying, are involved in building carbon dioxide that causes global warming. So short-term carbon savings are just as important as long-term goals.
- “I think it’s misleading when a customer says, ‘Keep flying, OK.’ It doesn’t produce a complete picture, “said Hughes.
So what about deletion? Is that the answer for travelers who want to pay for the impact of their flight?
There are hundreds of schemes set up around the world, giving commuters the opportunity to pay for climate-friendly projects such as rain forest protection, renewable energy, and the distribution of carbon-efficient cooking stoves in Africa’s poorest communities.
But reset is controversial. In fact, Mike Childs, head of the Friends of the Earth policy, describes him as “the greatest genius on Earth”.
They try to pretend that your release doesn’t count because you can turn it off, but the payoff is not real, it doesn’t last long, it doesn’t last forever. ”
- He suggests that you instead use the offset money to take the train next time or donate to your local nature reserve.
- On the other hand, he does not think that people should feel pressured every time they board a plane.
- “We have essentials on airplanes, but that doesn’t mean no one should travel at all,” he said.
“We don’t want to attack people who go on holiday once a year, who may not be able to travel by train or do not have time to travel by train.”
Instead, he thinks it is up to the government to make the change possible, by taxing jet fuel, making long-distance trains more expensive and setting policies to curb frequent flights.
- “We can spend the rest of our lives feeling guilty or we can do everything we can to try to reduce our impact,” Mr Childs said.
“Some people will be carbon angels and take out everything completely, but we also have to live in the real world and know that other people can go so far.”
Maggie Robertson does not see herself as a carbon angel. But he doesn’t think he can fly with a clear conscience and anytime soon.
- He is a Flight Free volunteer and has already booked a pre-epidemic holiday in Switzerland by train.
“Low carbon footage will be important for people who need to fly, but I have no hope that it will turn things around to the point where we can all fly the way we want,” he said.
Even if it is achieved in the medium term, he adds, it will not remove the current flight release, “so it is not a threat to continue as usual.