Eva De Groote, author of ‘Na de regen’ (After the rain)
Are you a vegetarian who doesn’t eat meat due to environmental/climate issues? A return trip from Brussels to New York is as damaging as eating one thousand Big Macs. Have you had a water-saving shower-head for two years? One return flight to London, and the CO2 you’ve saved has been emitted again. Or have you installed environmentally-friendly LED bulbs in your home? The CO2 benefits that you realise in 5.5 years are all cancelled out by one return trip to Barcelona. That’s what Jelmer Mommers from De Correspondent argues.
He offers a few figures that demonstrate the uncomfortable truth that flying is a disaster for the planet. ‘It always strikes me how people start shifting in their seat when this subject comes up. Isn’t it normal that I’d like to show my children some of the world? Isn’t is normal that I’d like to take a well-earned break in the sun? If you look at the impact of airtravel on the climate however, that’s just not normal. We are collectively sticking our heads in the sand, when it comes to its impact. So shouldn’t we fly at all (anymore)? That’s not the point I’m trying to make. My point is that we must use our common sense. By, for example, choosing not to fly under 750 kilometres. By making smart investments for the future (i.e. no new airports for short flights but investments in train and bus connections). Saving flights for longer holidays (which means not jumping in a plane several times a year for city breaks). This is the kind of challenges our society is facing today. However, a ground-breaking, high-impact shift is absolutely possible if enough people take the plunge. We have created the systems in which we live ourselves and we also have the power to change them. From consumer to policy maker. From tour operator to airline company.’