How do you feel about flying? Chances are, you’re feeling more guilty about it in 2020 than you ever have before. Maybe you have what Swedish people are calling “flygskam” or “flight shame”. According to research by Swedish bank UBS, one in five people surveyed have reduced their flights over the last year due to the climate crisis.
For many of us, this behaviour change was sparked by Greta Thunberg choosing not to fly to her crucial speaking events, proving the quiet ripple effect of peer behaviour change. For others, it’s just the most impactful way to reduce emissions. Making up 2% of global CO2 emissions today, aviation’s contribution is set to rise to 22% by 2050. But it’s your own personal carbon footprint where avoiding flying can see the biggest positive impact.
One flight can double your carbon output for the year according to Flight Free UK, which also explains that one transatlantic flight generates more CO2 than eating meat or using a car for a year. The FlightFree UK campaign, which wants 100,000 people to pledge to go flight free in 2020, also warns that the UK flies more than any country in the world.
But what else can we do as conscious travellers when everybody else is jetting off without a second thought? As well as pledging to go completely flight-free and inviting friends and colleagues to do the same, choose to buy from and work with companies that promote flying less. For example, at Greenhouse, we offer employees a reward of extra paid travel if they choose land or sea over flying, as part of the Climate Perks Scheme.
Anna Guyer, CEO, Greenhouse PR, says: “Until now, however much people cared about the environment, flying was a carbon-heavy luxury they avoided talking about. They’ll take a reusable coffee cup, yet won’t consider the sleeper train. But things are changing. At Greenhouse we offer extra holiday days to accommodate slower low-carbon public transport options. So many businesses say they care about the climate emergency, but they aren’t treating it as one. I urge them to join us in offering reward schemes such as Climate Perks and help spur the flight-free movement in the UK.”
The collective impact of kicking our flying habits could be huge. A report by US environmental and behaviour change organisation, Rare, found voluntary actions such as reducing flights can significantly contribute to overall emissions reductions in the absence of policy. Its latest report says scaling up these behaviours by just 10% could slash the projected gap to delivering the US commitment under the Paris Agreement by 80%.
So why not pledge to go flight-free or encourage Climate Perks adoption in 2020? Your behaviour could be quietly influencing a much bigger carbon footprint than your own.
If your organisation is pioneering radical climate action and needs help getting the word out, get in touch with the Greenhouse team on 0117 214 1250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.