Make a Flight Free Pledge!
Could you choose to take a year off flying?
Flight Free UK is asking people to pledge to take a year off flying to reduce carbon emissions and create a movement away from air travel. At a time when we need to slash our emissions, flying less is the quickest and easiest way to reduce our carbon footprint. Could you pledge to have a flight-free year? Sign the pledge.
This year has been a difficult year for many, and a very different picture for aviation. Many people have stayed grounded, not through choice, but through necessity. We know that positive climate action is much more meaningful when people make an informed decision to fly less, or not at all, and that those decisions will lead to genuine behaviour change and a shift in the narrative around travel.
The pledge for flight free 2021 is about making that positive and informed choice.
There are three levels of pledge:
- to be flight free in 2021
- to be leisure flight free in 2021
- to be flight free for life.
Green Christian Trustee, John Payne took the pledge. ‘I had a history of long haul flights for work, so, when I retired, I made a firm vow that I would only ever travel by plane again for charitable causes. Since September 2017, the only time I have flown is when I went to Palestine for 3 months last year as a human rights monitor (and travelling by rail there is not an option anymore – though it used to be – through Syria). We have great rail connections across Europe and to Russia / Turkey and all points East now from the UK, and super-fast trains. Prices on mainland Europe for train journeys are cheaper than they are in the UK. Whether it’s Rome or Istanbul, do consider going by train (Istanbul is the furthest I have been by train but my partner has travelled by train from the Peak District to Vietnam!).’
Green Christian member, Gill, says, ‘Jeff, my husband, and I decided to give up flying several years ago, when we realised how the emissions were contributing to the desecration of God’s incredible creation, our home, Earth. As Christians we are not only concerned about the future for our grandchildren but for our ‘neighbours’ in the Global South many of whom are already suffering from the adverse effects of the climate emergency. However, this decision does not mean that we do not have the most amazing holidays, travelling in Europe by train. The journey becomes so much part of the holiday, enabling us to witness and experience many different adventures and places. We feel incredibly blessed having visited Assisi (see photo), Santiago de Compostela, Lisbon and many other places, often small towns that have many treasures to discover.’
Geoff Stratford writes: ‘I find that using the Climate Stewards ‘Duplo’ model helps. After looking at the ‘average’ UK carbon footprint, then look (at the same scale) at the footprint of an average Somalian citizen, then the footprint if we were to have an ‘equitable’ footprint that would be Paris Agreement compliant. Then look at the carbon footprint of a return flight to New York, or Rome, or Costa del Sol. It tends to make people gasp.’
David Miller, who has also made the pledge, says, ‘Measuring one’s carbon footprint is the key to wanting to give up flying – it’s hard to get enthusiastic about taking a flight that could undo 30* years worth of the carbon savings achieved by replacing all your light bulbs!
*depends on how many light bulbs and where you are flying to, but you get the idea.’
Our Membership Secretary, Richard Kierton, says, I’ve just taken the flight-free pledge for life again, having previously committed to doing so. As a seasoned train traveller to the Continent, I prefer to use that mode of transport. Should I ever have the occasion to visit far-flung places, I’ll need to search whether it’s doable by train. I last flew in 2009 as part of a McCabe’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There was then and still is no rail connection between Israel and Lebanon.’
Green Christian member, Sandra, says, ‘I have never flown and now do not intend to do so. The original reasons were mixed, including fear and cost for a long time. Then I heard the singer Janet Baker in her last concert hall performance singing a song with words by an American poet whose name escapes me. The poet following the death of her fiancee had remained in one small community but her poetry was that of a person who in her own way Janet felt had lived quite intensely and fully. I found this a challenging idea. In more recent times I consciously decided that as it is no hardship for me not to fly I would not do so. I have made a point of going to hear people talk who have flown. These are often from organisations like Christian Aid or Palestinian Christian groups or people from other countries talking about eg fairtrade. In many cases these are people who live in the places concerned or visit for at least several weeks. I do value the kind of insights their travel has given them. I also occasionally help with air fares for some of the refugees I know who have occasion sometimes to bring a relative here or visit relatives in other countries.
I do watch a lot of programmes which have involved travel on TV and think that though clearly not the same as travelling there personally, I probably see sights I would not see myself on a visit.
There is no sense in which I feel I have missed out on exotic holidays. I have friends from many parts of the world and love involvements in my own home town.’
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Comments on "Make a Flight Free Pledge!"
I've only done two round trips (both business, one to the USA and one from Southampton to Glasgow & back) since 2007 (!) but this is probably more to do with stinginess than anything else - I haven't had a proper holiday since 2008 (ferry to NW Spain) so I'm not overly virtuous. This year I really fancied a break and look what happened. The claim that less flying is the most effective approach would be disputed by a Lund University study although its results won't be popular. Having few if any kids is the most effective idea apparently (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/03/farming-and-humanity-versus-the-environment) although a real cynic might suggest that taking up dangerous sports on retirement is another option. The great unmentionables on population are that well-off Western lifestyles are massively more destructive than those of (say) a Malawian subsistence farmer while human numbers will only fall if deaths exceed births. Paul Ehrlich wrote "the population bomb" in 1968 but I believe qualified it later by noting that a typical well-off US 2+2 household could have the impact of a small Bangladeshi village; the latter point is less pleasant as we can all gripe about other people, their kids and bad habits but contemplating our own mortality, even with religious faith, is much harder. After all, would anyone really turn down scientific advances allowing us to live healthily to 110? Yet the benefits would surely be grabbed by those with well-off high-impact lifestyles. John Wyndham foresaw this in "The Trouble with Lichen" many years ago; there aren't really easy answers though.