Summer 2019 will be remembered as the first summer after the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency. So what can we do, as summer travellers and holiday goers, to support this positive move in the right direction?
There is no denying that air travel is to be held accountable for contributing to the increase of carbon dioxide emissions. Plus, the warming effects of planes is said to be twice as high as the impact of carbon alone. This is because plane engines also generate a host of other “outputs”, including nitrous oxide, water vapour and soot which multiply a plane’s environmental impact.
In the UK however, statistics on the environmental effects of air travel are skewed in airlines’ favour as the alleged 1.5-2% that flights are said to contribute to global carbon emissions will clearly be higher in wealthier countries that fly more.
In the UK, we also offload this blame by dividing the CO2 output percentage in two, assuming half of the flyers arriving and landing are English, and the other half are from elsewhere. In reality, on average over 2 out of 3 passengers on each plane arriving and leaving England are UK citizens.
With environmental activist Greta Thunberg famously opting out of air travel to initiate governmental climate responsibility across Europe, this is the first summer that the ethical implications of air travel have really been forced into the mainstream media.
As with all environmental issues, some of us are more to blame than others. In the UK, 15% of us take 70% of all of the flights. In addition, first class travel is environmentally worse per person than economy class (as larger seats take up more room, which could otherwise be filled by other travellers). The English counties with the most frequent flyers include: City of London, Westminster, Surrey, Kensington and Chelsea.
So what can we do to be one of the good ones?
The short answer to this question is of course: travel less. Though, there are plenty of ways to enjoy our planet whilst protecting it. Before booking your trip away this summer, consider any one of these options to reduce your environmental footprint:
- Have a holiday at home. The UK has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Enjoy the fruits of England before booking your next trip abroad.
- Take the ferry. The journey from England to Calais in France is only a two hour boat trip!
- Go by coach. Flixbus and The Big Green Bus are two tried and tested ways to kick back, relax and let the driver take you to your holiday destination, smug in the knowledge that you didn’t get a plane. These companies are particularly good for commuting to festivals abroad.
If you have already booked your summer holiday flights this year, make sure to get the most of your trip and think of ways you could reduce you carbon dioxide emissions next year. Happy holidays!