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“Flight shame” – and now? How to reduce the CO2 footprint when flying

If the ideas of the young environmental activist Greta Thunberg appeal to you, then LuggageHero.com has a few practical suggestions for you. After all, instead of flying, the 16-year-old traveled by sailboat from her home country Sweden to New York this year to participate in the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23. The UN Youth Climate Summit will also take place on 21 September.

As a climate activist, Greta is also the face of the phenomenon “flygskam” (“flight shame”). It stands for a growing movement of people in Europe and North America who are advocating a reduction in air travel in order to reduce their harmful impact on the climate. The burning of kerosene releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and thus also contributes to global warming.

In terms of the level of emissions generated by aviation, Germany ranks 3rd in Europe and 7th worldwide. In 2018, a total of 18.26 million tonnes of CO2 were released in Germany – an increase of 14% compared to the previous year. In the global ranking, Germany is thus behind Spain and Japan.*

According to the Air Transport Action Group, air traffic caused emissions of about 895 million tons of CO 2 worldwide in 2018, out of a total of over 42 billion tons globally. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the aviation industry is thus responsible for about 2 percent of all man-made CO2 emissions. These emissions can have devastating effects on our environment. As air traffic continues to increase, the losses will also continue to grow. But it’s not too late to do something about it.

Here are some tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint without giving up travel. Because: Every small step can help!

Avoid short trips

Greta Thunberg Travel
Greta Thunberg in Stockholm in March 2019, Image: Per Grunditz / shutterstock

For example, if you are If you are travelling to Warsaw by car instead of by plane, you can use the CO2 reduce emissions by more than 40%. A flight between the two cities would release 112.2 kilograms, a car journey would release 67.3 kg and only 51.8 kg if the train was used.**
It is also said that journeys of up to 965 kilometres (600 miles) can be covered more energy-efficiently by train, bus or car than by plane.

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Choose direct flights

Non-stop flights save a lot of energy because more kerosene is consumed during take-off and landing than when gliding at cruising altitude. In fact, about 25% of the fuel is consumed during take-off, and at high altitudes the flight becomes much more energy-efficient. In short, changing trains is double stress – for you and for the environment.

Fly less long-haul routes

In terms of fuel efficiency, the ideal flight length is about 4,800 km (about 3,000 miles). For longer flights, more kerosene has to be carried, the aircraft becomes heavier, flies less efficiently and the CO2 footprint grows.

Relax during your travels

Fly less often and stay longer in the holiday country. This will allow you to get to know the area better. And that’s what travel is all about, isn’t it?

If possible, use “green” airports

How does an airport become “green”? Through things like smart recycling systems, sustainable building design, low noise pollution or environmentally friendly airport vehicles. Examples of such airports are Boston Logan International Airport, Zurich Airport or East Midlands Airport in Great Britain.

Book Economy Tickets

If there are more passengers on the plane, it is more energy-efficient. This is because more people can be transported in the economy sector than in business class. There, the seats are wider, more space is needed for the individual travelers and their luggage.

Pack less

The heavier your luggage, the more the plane weighs. This requires more energy. So just take less with you on the trip, it’s more convenient anyway.

Avoid plastic or use it several times

Refrain from using plastic at the airport and on the flight. This applies, for example, to straws, stirrers or cups. If you use a plastic cup during the flight, use it several times. You can even bring your own provisions and thus completely dispense with all the plastic parts that an airplane meal entails.

Look for travel companies that rely on CO2 offsetting

Some tour operators routinely offer CO2 offsetting for their trips. Look for vendors that offset not only the impact of their customers, but also the impact of their operations.

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Use providers for climate compensation

With non-profit providers for CO2 offsetting, you can offset the climate impact of your flight. The money you pay into this is invested in projects that save energy or reduce emissions in other places. These include subsidies for low-consumption cooking stoves in Africa or local, environmentally friendly energy production. Some airlines also cooperate with such programs. Check beforehand what the money will be used for.

Refrain from flying for a year

The Swede Maja Rosén calls on people to resolve not to fly for a year – in 2020. Last year, she founded We Stay on the Ground to inspire activists around the world to get involved. Anyone can participate, but a “national pledge” is only considered official if at least 100,000 people from a country are present. There are currently active campaigns in Sweden, Germany, the UK, Denmark, Belgium, France and Canada.

Keep your feet on the ground

Of course, they can also be very consistent and not fly at all, like Greta and others. Simply use alternative transport options such as trains, buses, bicycles or cars (preferably in a carpool).

Seien Sie dabei – Join the Movement

It doesn’t matter whether you give up flying altogether, change a few of your habits or continue as before for the time being: you can always stand up for the environment. These include supporting research and development for greener aviation, advocating for energy-efficient public transport and electing local, regional and national politicians who are committed to the fight against climate change. Every small step helps!

*Source: Amadeus IT Group, combined with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) emission factors, compiled by Griffith University Institute for Tourism and assessed by LuggageHero.
**Source: EcoPassenger, a calculator from the International Railways Union for the environmental impact of transport. The calculation for cars is based on 1.5 passengers per vehicle, for rail travel on the average occupancy rate of trains and for aircraft on the average occupancy rate in Europe, including arrival, departure and movement on the tarmac.

LuggageHero.com is a worldwide network of safe, accessible and affordable luggage storage locations. These are located in local shops, cafes and hotels. Since launch, customers have booked over one million hours of luggage storage at over 1,100 locations in Europe and North America. LuggageHero is based in Copenhagen and already offers its service to travelers in 30 major cities worldwide. The company is one of the ” Hot 25 Travel Startups 2019” according to Phocus Wire and has been recommended by leading media such as the New York Times, Lonely Planet or CNBC.