160: “flygskam”


Carbon dioxide emissions of aircraft only account for about 2 per % is much bigger, because planes emit other gases that have a warming effect, including nitrogen oxide and contrails (those white tails of frozen water vapour visible from the ground).


“flygskam” is a Swedish word meaning flight shame, the intention being to discourage travellers from using airflights when they can take a ship, a train or even sustainable car-pooling, so lowering carbon emissions. They can then use the word “tågskryt or “train brag”

The idea was originally championed in 2017 by Olympic biathlete Bjorn Ferry who estimated that during his sporting career he was travelling 180 days of the year, totalling around 25,000 mi (40,000 km) per year by plane and another 25,000 by car or minibus — and around 16 tons of CO2 emissions per year. After realising his impact Ferry he publicly committed to ditching air travel completely.

Ferry’s campaign to promore flygskam gained momentum after teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s mother, the opera singer Malena Ernman, publicly announced she would stop flying, with various Swedish celebrities following suit.

Thunberg herself travelled travel to events and conferences by train. She also took two weeks to travel from England to the UN Climate Action summit in New York, by the Malizia II, a solar-powered yacht.

Exact numbers are hard to estimate, but the Tagsemester Facebook page, set up by entrepreneur and environmentalist Susanna Elfors to give people tips and information on how to cut back on air travel in favour of rail travel, has around 80,000 active users. Swedish rail company SJ AB reports that twice as many Swedish people chose to travel by train instead of by air in summer 2019 compared with the previous year

From January 2020, Coronavirus had the disastrous effect of seriously reducing the commercial air flights, ironically creating a similar positive effect for air quality and the flyskam movement.

Satellite data collected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) and shared by NASA’s Earth Observatory showed a steep decline in nitrogen dioxide levels across the Planet.

The “flight shame” movement—vliegschaamte in Dutch, flygskam in Swedish, and flugscham in German—has lured some travelers back to the rails. French,  Dutch and German lawmakers are discussing bans on short domestic and international flights served by high-speed trains.

Germany has cut rail fares by 10% to encourage ridership, and the country’s Green Party is pushing to end the tax exemption on aviation fuel in favor of increasing funding for train travel. Traveling by rail cuts emissions by 70% to 90% compared to flying.
Sweden’s rail authority will run more overnight sleeper trains to serve passengers skipping airlines amid escalating climate concerns.

The new offering by Trafikverket will dispatch trains from Malmö, Sweden in the evening, scoop up more passengers an hour later Copenhagen, and arrive in Cologne, Germany at 6am. Onward connections from there will allow passengers to arrive in London, Paris, Munich, and Amsterdam before lunchtime.

After nearly two decades, the Brussels-to-Vienna overnight train by Austrian Railways (ÖBB) is rolling again. ÖBB now plans to expand hotel-like amenities on its 27 overnight train routes by 2022, with more coming.

In France, activists saved a beloved sleeping-car route between Paris, Perpignan and the Spanish border town of Portbou, according to Nicolas Forien, a member of both Back on Track and the French group Oui au Train de Nuit (“Yes to the Night Train”).

What you can do: Only use flights for journeys which are impossible for land transport.

Tomorrow’s solution: drinking from the fog

Discover Solution 161: Drinking water from fog

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