Climate of guilt: Flying no longer the high road for some
NYKOPING, Sweden (AP) — School’s out for summer and Swedish lawyer Pia Bjorstrand, her husband and their two sons are shouldering backpacks, ready to board the first of many trains on a whistle-stop vacation around northern Europe.
The family is part of a small but growing movement in Europe and North America that’s shunning air travel because it produces high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. While experts say fighting climate change will require bigger and bolder actions by governments around the world, some people are doing what they can to help, including changing long-held travel habits.
The trend is most prominent in Sweden, where the likes of teen climate activist Greta Thunberg have challenged travelers to confront the huge carbon cost of flying.
“Even I, who was climate aware 10 years ago, didn’t think about flying in the way that I think now,” said Bjorstrand as she waits on the platform of Nykoping station in eastern Sweden. “I didn’t know that the effect of flying was so big. So we flew everywhere.”
Airlines argue that flying accounts for just 2% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and increasingly efficient planes now use about the same amount of fuel per passenger as a half-full car. Yet the ease and falling cost of air travel is enabling more people to fly more often, meaning airline emissions are soaring even as other sources decline.