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Flight Free for 2020: Gope Walker

Gope Walker runs an IT consultancy and has clients and staff across three continents. He is also a triathlete and British Triathlon coach, and usually flies for work or for sporting events. We caught up with Gope and asked him what led to him signing the #flightfree2020 pledge.

FlightFree UK
15 Aug 2019 3 min read

Gope Walker riding his sports bike during a triathlon race.

Thanks for signing the pledge, Gope! It’s great to have your support. What turned you on to the idea?

I saw the Flight Free pledge on BBC Breakfast and thought it was a great idea. I've got a Masters in Environmental Science and have always been conscious of climate issues but it's only been recently that I've been proactive enough to change, like moving nearer to a plant-based diet and cutting back on flying. It's easy to be apathetic about the environment when your peers are the same.

"It's easy to be apathetic about the environment when your peers are the same."

But I want to prove to myself (and my peers) that you can run an international business and have an enriched and adventurous life without needing to fly.

Where do you have clients and staff, and how do you usually connect with them?

My clients and staff are everywhere from the UK, Ireland and Spain to Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and even South America. Most of my meetings are on Google Hangouts, Skype, go-to-meeting, or Zoom. I do occasionally travel internationally to see clients, though I haven’t been to South America for a couple of years. I do go to Ireland regularly though, and usually fly, but I can get the train to Holyhead and then the ferry across instead.

"I can get the train to Holyhead and then the ferry across to Ireland. It might take longer but my time is more productive."

It might take longer but my time is more productive due to WIFI access and nice tables on a train/ferry.

How much do you typically fly in a triathlon season? Where are you going to do your sporting events in 2020?

This year (sorry) I've done a tri camp in Denia in Spain (Alicante), a cycling camp in Mallorca (Palma), a cycling holiday with friends in the Alps (Geneva) and a charity bike ride (Action Medical Research) in northern Spain (Bilboa).

Next year I want to be able to do similar holidays but just without flying i.e. by driving to France and the Alps, with a stop for a bike ride on the way in Northern France. The Action Medical Research Charity bike ride is in the Black Forest next year, and I'm looking to cycle there. I've also entered the Alpe D'Huez triathlon in July which will require driving.

I'm also thinking of doing a lot more UK based cycling/triathlon trips. I've been to Mallorca 15 times but never actually been to Cornwall….

If I can find away to do this without a car then even better, but my default plan is to drive with a few others to share the drive.

What do you think this will mean for your future? Will you reduce your flying going forwards as well… or is it impossible to tell right now?

My intention is that I'll only fly when I need but to be honest, other than an urgent family emergency, nothing is going to be that important. Maybe if a client takes particular umbrage to not physically shaking my hand which will have a significantly detrimental impact to my business then I might fly, but I honestly can't see that happening.

I'm excited about the challenge of taking the Flight Free 2020 pledge. If I can do it then hopefully it'll inspire a couple of others to do the same.

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