With Mauritian parents, I understand the importance of being able to take trips to see family abroad. Mauritius is a tiny island in the Indian ocean, located off the southeast coast of Africa, to the East of Madagascar. At over 6,000 miles away from the UK, it is approximately a 12-hour flight from London. It’s a beautiful place, but there is little option to get there without flying.
As a kid, I remember hiding under a table when a cyclone hit the island. The wind felt strong, and I could see the tall palm trees being pulled hard. Tropical storms are natural, and infrastructure and preparation has been put in place for Mauritius to deal with them.
However, Mauritius is not prepared for increased heavy rainfall, flooding, landslides, and more intense and frequent tropical storms, all effects of climate change. The island’s biodiverse ecosystems relate directly to people’s livelihoods as they depend on fishing, tourism, food and medicine. When we talk about survival, this is it.
I haven’t visited for seven years; the more time passes, the more I feel hugely disconnected from aspects of my culture and heritage, as well as family, but what keeps me from feeling saddened by this is the knowledge that I am doing everything I can to keep Mauritius alive for present and future generations.
Not flying is a more impactful way to show my family I care about them, their home and the Mauritian way of life, which will likely end up underwater if we don’t do anything.
I can't say that I will never get on a plane again, but with the current climate crisis, it feels wrong to take a flight knowing that the carbon emissions will affect families all over the world, including on the island that feels special to me. Climate justice is a huge reason why taking the pledge is important.
I'd love to travel to Mauritius in the future, and I would like it to be low-carbon: an epic journey by train and boat. In the meantime there are plenty of places I can visit by train from the UK and I will sign up to the pledge every year that I can.
The UK government promotes frivolous flying without any comment on the consequences for countries in other parts of the world that will suffer if we do not cut our emissions. As a UK citizen with Mauritian family, and parents that have lived in both countries, I am aware of the stark inequalities of these two countries, and how my own life could be very different right now.
For me the motivation not to fly is greater than it ever has been. We absolutely need to address climate change, but we also need to address these inequalities across the world, and the Flight Free pledge is a symbolic statement to demand a better, more just world for all.