Desert view

Fly green or not at all? – A plea to travel

  ·  Guest Author
  ·  Opinion
  ·  Sustainable Travel

Why should you fly greener when the greenest alternative is not to fly at all? If I’m really serious about sustainability, then I’m actually not allowed to get on a plane at all! Such thoughts keep going through my head.

About the pros and cons of air travel. An opinion.

Could I not fly at all?

When I started to actively participate at Fly.Green, it was immediately clear to me: there would be headwinds! As soon as the project gets a little bigger, people will criticize us and accuse us of greenwashing. And this criticism is certainly not unjustified: after all, air traffic is responsible for around 2.8% of all CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels (figures from 2016). [1]

Lake in front of Mountains - a view we are all searching for
@Patricia Woiton

Measured against the total number of people who ever fly, this is a high number, because it is estimated that only around 3-5% of the world’s population have ever flown. [2] But measured in terms of 100% CO2 emissions, it’s not that much, is it? Road traffic has an 18% share, our electricity and heat are significantly larger influencing factors with 41%. [3]

Iced Mountain with women in front - do you want to go there?
@Patricia Woiton

But let’s not fool ourselves: it would be better for the environment and more sustainable to completely refrain from flying. And for some people this may be the best solution. But it’s not for me. Because I don’t believe that sustainability can only mean doing without! How long can I endure a life in which I deny myself the desires of my heart and forego an indefinite and abstract danger like climate change? How long is this possible without giving up in resignation at some point? Especially in times of Corona, we feel how stressful such a situation can be in the long run. In my opinion, sustainability must therefore also be possible without lazy compromises and without the feeling of foregoing, otherwise it will not last!

Sustainability and I

I define myself more and more about sustainability in my life. I don’t own a car; initially for cost reasons, but now I’m a staunch non-car owner (with the exception of my dream of having my own van, which I will surely fulfill at some point). I don’t eat meat, I live mostly vegan. I now shop very seasonally and regionally, if possible at the weekly market, but at least more and more plastic-free in the organic supermarket. That makes me very environmentally friendly in the areas of transport and nutrition.

Hills with snow
@Patricia Woiton

What is very important to me: I do not want to denigrate or criticize car owners or meat eaters. I think it’s so much better when everyone does what they can do with themselves and their life than when you completely give up the pursuit of sustainability because you can’t achieve 100% (because who can do it?). In the city, for example, local public transport is of course better developed and the routes can be done by bike – so I can’t compare myself to people in rural areas at all.

Desert view - you can get there with Fly.Green
@Patricia Woiton

As with a change in diet and other habits that we rarely change from 0 to 100, but rather approach it in small steps. Always in feasible and realistic steps but with sustainable success. And above all with understanding and forbearance for one another instead of “whataboutism” and criticism of those who try to make a difference.

I love to travel

And when it comes to feasibility for each individual: for me, traveling is my second heart-to-heart issue. I love to travel, to discover new countries, landscapes and cultures. To (re) discover myself again and again on these trips. The journeys in my life have changed me and made me who I am today.

While traveling, I have seen and experienced how we deal with nature and its resources. I’ve seen polluted beaches, forests, fields and bodies of water, dying coral reefs, and visited places that have been abandoned due to lack of water and are no longer habitable today. And I got to know the beauty of nature and felt how worthy of protection it is!

A road into the beautiful hilly landscape - search for flights at fly.green
@Patricia Woiton

Travel for the climate

It has become increasingly clear to me through my travels that a lot has to happen in our society, but above all that I have to do something! To change something in myself and in my life and to make my contribution. So who am I, with this knowledge of asking others not to travel? Who am I of the growing number of people who want to travel (and can afford it) to forbid them from seeing and doing the same thing as me? To make the same discoveries and possibly with the same enthusiasm, the same feeling of wanting to live more sustainably? Only when we see and feel these things with our own eyes do we become active and have the energy in us that it needs to slow down climate change and protect the environment!

While traveling, I have seen and experienced how we deal with nature and its resources. I’ve seen polluted beaches, forests, fields and bodies of water, dying coral reefs, and visited places that have been abandoned due to lack of water and are no longer habitable today. And I got to know the beauty of nature and felt how worthy of protection it is!

A stone with grass
@Patricia Woiton

What if traveling is one of the best ways to gain an understanding of other cultures, countries and people, the beauty and the protection of nature, and thus gain more support in the pursuit of sustainability (and peace)? Isn’t it a good thing to travel then?

That’s why I believe that travel is actually good for us, our society, the climate and nature.

Trying to find a solution

Of course, every time I go on vacation, every trip and every flight, I ask myself: is that really necessary? Can I reach my goal more sustainably? How can I find the most sustainable way to travel?

But sometimes there is no alternative or it takes far too long, is also unsustainable (e.g. a boat trip) and I would like to visit good friends or relatives or simply see this one country that I have long dreamed of …

Bird on moose - cutest ever!
@Patricia Woiton

And if there is no real (more sustainable) alternative to a flight, I will at least book the one with the lowest CO2 emissions and offset the consumption. For me this is the best solution.


[1] https://www.klimaschutz-portal.aero/klimakiller-nr-1/ (as of 23.02.2021)

[2] https://www.dw.com/de/der-klimawandel-und-das-fliegen/a-42094220; https://www.atmosfair.de/de/gruenreisen/klimagerechtigkeit/

[3] https://www.klimaschutz-portal.aero/klimakiller-nr-1/ (as of 23.02.2021)


Picture of Patricia - our guest author

Patricia

Patricia lives in Berlin/Germany and loves to travel, photography and reading. She is a supporter and ambassador for Fly.Green since early 2021. Equality and a fair together amongst all humans are her core believes.

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