Flying Low

January 2, 2008 at 4:00 pm 1 comment

I’ve taken 4 flights in the last 3 days, which highlights one of the biggest problems we face – that even environmentally conscious people choose, or are forced to continue to make choices that are detrimental to the environment.My choice was either to spend Christmas alone, or with my family in Argentina (I wasn’t able to influence the destination). Understandably I chose the latter and I had a fantastic trip. But from an environmental perspective I feel guilty. Additionally, I have 3 long-haul trips already planned this year, to China, San Francisco and Madagascar for work, and my need to take flights shows no signs of abating.

Flying is a huge contributor to climate change as George Monbiot eloquently argues here

Over the coming decade we’re going to see a massive rise in air travel due to new and cheaper routes (think Terminal 5 or the huge rise in air travel in India). Also there will be many more tourists flying – think of the few million additional Chinese or Indians who now have the disposable incomes to travel by plane.

What can be done?

Well, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the ‘Don’t fly’ argument that George M and others preach is going to wash with any but the most hardened environmentalists. There are some great ways to reduce flying pressures, but I don’t see this curbing the growth. Flying is also very important in a globalised world, with tourism providing huge support in developing countries see Blue Ventures, as an example.

As such, I think that the key is to develop a tax or compulsory charge for all flights, where the money is spent directly on carbon offsetting. Additionally, it is vital that the carbon offsetting projects stand up to scrutiny and are regulated, (unfortunately many don’t as is demonstrated in this article). For one of the best offsetting projects around, see BVCO.

As far as I can see, a compulsory charge is the only way that the true cost of flying can be accounted for those that won’t or can’t limit their flying.

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Musings on Social Enterprise More eco-forcefullness

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