Support ‘Flight Free 2020’


Support ‘Flight Free 2020’

We all know that flying is extremely damaging for the environment, but you only really know once you hear that flying abroad for a single holiday can cancel out all the other efforts to reduce carbon emissions and more than double the size of a household carbon footprint. So one of the most effective things we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint is to fly less.

What is Flight Free 2020?

Flight Free is a campaign that started in Sweden by Maja Rosén in 2018, through the website, and has since spread to different countries including the UK, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark and Norway.

The UK campaign, Flight Free UK , is asking people to pledge not to fly at all in 2020. Their website also gives ideas on how to travel without flying. The UK aims to get 100,000 people to sign up. At the time of writing, its website had 2,161 signatures.

There is Not Enough Time for Wishful Technology Fixes

Hopefully sooner or later we will work out how to fly using renewable energy, but as we only have 11 years to avert the climate catastrophe, the best way right now is flight free. Currently there is technology being developed to make aviation less damaging such as electric jet engines and solar panels to fly around the world but we are still decades away from real commercial flight, so the only way to really reduce carbon emissions is not to fly in the first place. For some people it may not be possible to give up flying completely however it would be a good thing if people start to change their habits for flying several times a year for pleasure.

The Government is Failing to Protect Us

A controversial third runway at Heathrow has been planned. I am appalled by this decision; just as much as the Extinction Rebellion Climate activists. Like all of us who care about the Climate, they fiercely opposed the idea of this third runway as they say ‘it would make the airport the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK.” Surely if the UK government was serious about the climate emergency it would think again about going ahead with it? Are they not serious about zero emmission targets? From a recent Guardian report, the Committee on Climate Change had recently criticised the government for doing a terrible job at tackling the climate crisis. They are “shocked that the UK has no proper plans for protecting people from heatwaves, flash flooding and other impacts of the climate crisis”.

Given the climate is about to collapse, we must refrain from flying. If we are serious enough perhaps we could stop this expansion going ahead.

Spread the Word to Raise the Awareness

Spread the word by talking about this issue with your family and friends. If enough of us do it, we can forget about airport expansion and start talking about airport contraction instead. And by the way, cruise ships are just as damaging, but trains are not as bad. Obviously there are times when flying is more necessary than others; I would never want to ban people from flying to another continent to visit family for example. But I really want to raise awareness to this campaign. I believe we, as young people can have a major influence over our parents to have staycations instead.

I think those who are making this commitment are brilliant. Perhaps, people may find rationing flying a lot easier than going totally vegan (even though reducing meat consumption would be a good idea). Anything we can do as individuals to slow down the climate catastrophe should be applauded, however small. It all adds up.

You can sign the Flight Free UK Pledge here:-

Comments (4)

  • Tiff-Avatar.jpg Tiff @ Topical Talk
    15 Jul 2019

    This sounds like a really interesting initiative and it shows how individual action can have a collective impact!

    Do you foresee any problems with this idea? For example, if people don't travel to far away places anymore, what might the implications of this be?

    Reply to this comment
    1. The-Ruth-Gorse-logo-250x250.jpg creative_sparrow | The Ruth Gorse Academy | United Kingdom
      Tiff @ Topical Talk's comment 16 Jul 2019

      Hi Tiff!

      Yes, I do think there will be negative consequences to flying less as it would affect the poorer countries the most that rely on tourism as their main source of income. If we all decided to not fly to countries within Africa, India and to other regions that are less well developed then the livelihood of these people will suffer.

      However, those countries who depend upon tourism for their livelihoods are also suffering the devastating impact of climate change now. Many low-lying islands around the world are already hit by rising sea levels and sea acidification that are destroying sea life that tourists flock to see. Meanwhile, rising temperatures mean snow shortages in many ski resorts are also suffering the consequences of climate change. Currently we have millions of people displaced in India, Nepal and Bangladesh due to severe floods and landslides and the death toll rising to more than 100. Food crops and homes are destroyed. These tourist destination depend on the beauty of their natural environment to attract tourists so as climate change continues to wreak havoc to these places then their economy will continue to suffer even more. So there has to come to a point much sooner than later where alternative livelihoods will have to be considered in order for these communities to survive.

      Though, I do know that to refrain from all flights is not the only answer to avoiding the climate catastrophe. The Flightfree campaign is there to change our attitude to flying. And in Sweden, Netherland and Germany, their attitudes have shifted so much in recent years that a new word ‘flying shame’ has been developed (flygskam in Sweden, vliegschaamte in Netherlands and Flugscham in Germany). So a social awareness is definitely spreading. If we can increase more awareness of our flying habits then we can also raise our social conscience to other aspects of our lives, then collectively there’s a much greater power to put pressure on our government to do more. For example increase funding to speed up the development of greener plane technology, make the travel industry be accountable about their carbon emission e.g. do more to offset the carbon emissions. Tour companies can do more to employ, train and help more disadvantage people from more rural communities. For example, train more women to be tour guides, taxi drivers and chauffeurs, this will not only give them greater status in their society but also cater for female travellers by providing a more enjoyable and safer experience on their trip especially if they are travelling alone. And travel companies could do more to create travel tours to include more rural areas that can really benefit a bigger expanse of poorer communities. In exchange, travellers will gain a rich, cultural experience from their travels abroad.

      When we know that we are going to use a years worth of carbon in one flight, our social conscience kicks in and we will ensure that we fly less, stay longer to contribute more to their economy. Make a trip count as much as possible by choosing a holiday destination that makes a real difference to the livelihoods and the economy that tourism can bring to a community.

      However, we can’t ignore the fact that we are in a grip of a climate emergency, if we compare it to being in war, would we be thinking about holidays? So when the government makes plans to expand the third runway, it’s telling us they want to encourage the industry to grow. When the government has a ‘business as usual’ approach to flying it’s telling the world "hey look outside, everything is perfect, no climate change here" meanwhile politicians choose to dismiss the consensus of over 35,000 climate scientists. Pretty arrogant don’t you think? It’s no surprise why people aren’t panicking too. People could willingly choose not to fly, not to drive to the shops, buy the latest fashion and gadgets or buy less meat and dairy. But they don’t. And you wonder why?

      So actions have to be left to the passengers, individually and collectively, to act. In 11 years time and knowing what we all know now and if Earth becomes a death sentence for millions, will we look back and ask ourselves did we make the necessary sacrifices to avert the climate catastrophe?

      Reply to this comment

You must be logged in with Student Hub access to post a comment. Sign up now!