Stockholm (AFP) – Saddled with long dark winters at home, Swedes have for decades been frequent flyers seeking out sunnier climes, but a growing number are changing their ways because of air travel’s impact on the climate.
“Flygskam”, or flight shame, has become a buzz word referring to feeling guilt over the environmental effects of flying, contributing to a trend that has more and more Swedes, mainly young, opting to travel by train to ease their conscience.
Spearheading the movement for trains-over-planes is Sweden’s own Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate school striker who refuses to fly, travelling by rail to the World Economic Forum in Davos and the climate summit in Katowice, Poland.
A growing number of public figures have vowed to #stayontheground, including Swedish television skiing commentator Bjorn Ferry who said last year he would only travel to competitions by train.
And 250 people working in the film industry signed a recent article in the country’s biggest daily Dagens Nyheter calling for Swedish film producers to limit shoots abroad.
An anonymous Swedish Instagram account created in December has been shaming social media profiles and influencers for promoting trips to far-flung destinations, racking up more than 60,000 followers.
“I’m certainly affected by my surroundings and (flight shame) has affected how I view flying,” Viktoria Hellstrom, a 27-year-old political science student in Stockholm, told AFP.
Last summer, she took the train to Italy, even though the friends she was meeting there went by plane, as that would have been her second flight within a few weeks.
“The only way I could justify going there was if I took the train,” she said.
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