Our main method of behaviour change is for people to be completely flight free for a year.
Why do we ask people to do this?
To reduce emissions
If you fly, it’s likely that flights will make up the biggest part of your carbon footprint. Depending on where you fly to, taking a year off flying could save multiple tons of carbon from your personal emissions.
For example, avoiding one transatlantic flight would save at least 1.7 tonnes carbon – the equivalent to driving for a year. Even shorter flights, for example to the Mediterranean, generate up to 1 tonne CO2 – about the same as you might save from being vegan for a year.
So being completely flight free for a year is a really powerful step towards reducing your emissions.
To break a habit
Taking time away from something is a great way to break a habit and try the alternatives. Lots of people fly because it’s the default way of travelling, and they don’t know about, or haven’t considered, the alternatives. Setting yourself a challenge not to take any flights for a year can help you discover other ways of travelling – ways that might actually be preferable to flying.
To change the social norm
We know that flight levels and emissions will continue to rise unless we make big changes in our behaviour. Our flight free challenge has created a community of people who are making those changes, which helps others to make changes too.
We humans are heavily influenced by each other, so if we see lots of people taking a certain action, it encourages us to do the same. If lots of people change their travel habits, it starts to shift the social norms.
To communicate the urgency of the climate crisis
For lots of people, taking a flight free year is a big commitment, but we want to communicate that at this point in the climate crisis, we need to be taking big steps to reduce our emissions, and that means making big changes in our lives.
For those who can’t be completely flight free for a year, we also offer a ‘free choice’ pledge.
Everybody’s circumstances are different, and there might be a reason why you can’t avoid all flights for a year. For this reason, people can make their own pledge which suits their personal circumstances.
This might work especially well for people who have relatives abroad, who are not easily reached without flying. It could also be that some work commitments require a flight.
It could also be a useful starting point for people who haven’t considered reducing their flights before, but would be prepared to challenge themselves to take no flights within Europe, for example. After that, a more difficult challenge would seem more easily achieved.
We want to make it clear that we’re not letting people ‘off the hook’ with our free-choice pledge! But we understand that living in a globalised world comes with plenty of challenges, and it’s simply not practical for everyone to be completely flight free. We still invite those people to take part in our challenge because it's a great way to demonstrate good intentions, to work towards reducing emissions, and to show our leaders and politicians that people are concerned about the climate.
There is no ‘minimum’ pledge that someone can make, but we encourage people to choose something that will make an impact and that is a real challenge.
Having said that, we wouldn't permit holiday flights to be taken as part of any pledge, because of the urgency of the climate crisis.
The free choice pledge can also be tailored for those who want to make a bigger commitment than one flight free year, for example four years flight-free, or a flight-free decade, or even flight-free for life.