A Boeing 747 uses 7840 kg of fuel only for its takeoff, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that aviation is responsible for around 3.5% of the climate change related to human activity. The problem is the industry is not only growing, but its impact could contribute up to 5% of climate change causes. Swedes are recognizing the high climate damage derive from flying, and they are beginning to see changes in attitudes as well as in travel behaviors.
Politicians have started to think on other travel alternatives for their people, and Sweden is certainly a leading example on this. For them, trains are a more climate-friendly option than airplanes, as all rail tracks are electrified - meaning them zero-carbon. Even in countries where trains are still run on fossil fuels, they emit far less carbon per passenger than flying.
Swedes now have a concept called “flygskam” or “flight shame” - calling out people who brag about flying thousands of miles around the world and supporting alternative traveling options.
The country’s national railway service set a record in 2018 of 31.8 million passengers traveling with them, and in the first quarter of 2019 the numbers have increased 10% as compared with the same time last year. Several cargo ships are also offering transport for civilian passengers. Ships are by far the most efficient way to travel as they are essentially zero carbon for personal travel.
Here’s some food for thought expressed by a renowned climate academic: “Flight should be seen as a precious gift, to be used wisely and sparingly, not blown on cheap weekend jaunts.”
So, how will you make it to your next getaway destination? How about a nice boat ride there?