Over the course of my career I have mostly worked in the travel industry or as a service provider to it. I actually spent three years working for an airline which I really enjoyed.
I worked for a US company with regular trips across the Atlantic for a while, and in general I can look back on a privileged existence from a career in the travel sector.
That privilege became tested a few of years ago after reading, amongst other material, “The Uninhabitable Earth.” I realised that I could be amongst the final generation to experience the peace, comfort and wealth that we have come to take for granted in the developed world.
Along with an industry colleague I started a group called CACTUS to create conversations on Climate Action within Corporate Travel. Our aim was to have difficult conversations, and this has been the case.
Through this work, I'm often asked by individuals what they can do personally to make a difference.
From the perspective of avoiding meaningful levels of emissions, and from personal experience, one of the most impactful and easy actions an individual can take is to reduce flying, and importantly, to actively talk about that commitment.
One of the most impactful and easy actions an individual can take is to reduce flying, and importantly, to actively talk about that commitment.
I reckon my personal carbon footprint back in 2016 would have been circa 40 tonnes of CO2e, around four times the UK average, with the majority of that made up of flights.
Of all the changes I have felt obliged to make, the decision not to fly seems to be the least problematic. When future generations depend on our immediate action to cut the emissions now then the frivolous nature of a flight for another holiday seems ludicrous and utterly lacking in leadership.
Since making the commitment not to fly I've continued to enjoy some amazing places and experiences, many closer to home but also many involving wonderful rail journeys across the European landscape. I've hiked, skied and swum in some fantastic locations and spent a great deal less along the way.
Since making the commitment not to fly I've continued to enjoy some amazing places and experiences.
Electric flight and sustainable air fuels may offer promise in a decade’s time but this is the very decade that we have to stop the damage.
If there is a need for these journeys to take place then surely that should be for urgent medical aid, diplomatic missions, and other vital causes. My summer holiday, adventure, ski break or corporate jolly doesn’t qualify as any of these.