Choosing not to fly can feel like a big sacrifice and many questions usually arise. Here we answer the 27 most common ones. For references, see here. More detailed answers can be found in the guide We Need to Talk about Aviation. If you have further thoughts or questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
1. The emissions from flying are so low?
Aviation accounts for 3.5% of total emissions. It does not sound as much, but the reason that the share is not higher is that so few people in the world fly. 80% of the world’s population has never flown, and only 2-4% fly abroad in a year. In rich countries, however, air accounts for a much larger share of emissions. As an example, in Sweden 2017, aviation emitted as much as 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, which is as much as all passenger car traffic, and accounted for a whopping 13.6% of our emissions.
We need to reduce our emissions to no more than 2.1 tonnes per person per year by 2030 and to one tonne by 2050 (preferably now). A return trip between Paris and New York emits 1.6 tonnes of greenhouse gases, a return trip between Sweden and Thailand emits 2,2 tonnes, and a return trip between Sydney and London emits as much as 4,5 tonnes (according to flightemissionmap.org). This means that just one holiday by air could consume our entire individual annual carbon budget and more, leaving no room for unavoidable emissions, such as food and housing. If everyone in the world were to treat themselves to the equivalent of an annual flight between Sweden and Thailand, total global emissions (not just aviation emissions) would increase by nearly 30 percent, when they need to be reduced by at least 45 percent by 2030. Many people fly much more than that, and it is not uncommon for flights to account for half or more of one’s individual emissions. Which source of emissions is most significant for an individual will of course vary from person to person. For those who want to get an idea of how their own emissions are distributed, there are several different tools for this, for example mossy.earth.
2. I hardly ever fly
Most people know someone who flies a lot more than they do. So it’s easy to get the idea that a few annual flights means flying rarely. But the fact is that if you fly twice a year, you fly twice as often as the average Swede. Swedes fly once a year on average – and that’s five times more than the world average. Only 2-4 percent of the world’s population flies abroad in a year and 80 percent of the world’s people have never flown. From that perspective, anyone who has ever been on an airplane can consider themselves a frequent flyer.
3. Shouldn’t we deal with China instead?
It’s easy to feel that emissions from aviation are insignificant when there are so many things that are worse, like China, the steel industry or the clothing industry. But it’s not enough to tackle the worst source of emissions – we need to reduce all emissions. Moreover, the reason why aviation is not the biggest source of emissions from a global perspective is that so few people in the world fly (see point 1). For those who do fly, it is often the single largest source of emissions, i.e. the worst.
China is the country with the highest emissions because it has a huge production of goods that are then consumed by people in other countries and because it has such a large population. In terms of individual emissions, the average Chinese citizen still has slightly lower emissions than the average Swede. Why should we have the right to have higher emissions just because we are so few? However, comparing which country is worst is not relevant because emissions are very unevenly distributed even within countries. It is the richest ten percent of the world’s population that are the worst emitters. They account for almost half of total emissions, while the poorest half of the world accounts for only 10% of emissions. So who are the richest ten percent of the world’s population? Well, everyone who earns more than about 38 000 USD a year. The average salary in Sweden is 41 250 USD a year.
We Swedes emit an average of nine tonnes of greenhouse gases a year (many emit much more than that). If everyone in the world lived like the average Swede, we wouldn’t stand a chance of saving the climate. The fact that there are those who emit even more than we do is irrelevant. What is relevant is what would happen if everyone lived like you do. You can find out by calculating your own emissions using, for example, mossy.earth.
4. It doesn’t matter what individuals do/reducing emissions is the responsibility of politicians
Do you feel that it doesn’t matter what you do? It’s an understandable feeling, but saying that it doesn’t matter what individuals do is like saying that there’s no point in voting. One single vote doesn’t make much difference, but together the votes are what decide the outcome. Of course decisive political action is necessary if we are to save the climate. But those policies won’t appear by themselves. Knowledge of the severity of the climate crisis has been around for a long time, yet politicians continue to make decisions that go against science. If we are to have any chance of making the necessary policy changes in time, more individuals need to wake up and realise that we need to change our lifestyles.
Refraining from flying is one of the most important things an individual can do for the climate (see point 1). Every tonne of emissions saved and every tenth of a degree of warming reduction has an impact, but the biggest effect comes from the influence this decision has on the people around you. If you stop flying, the chances increase that your friends will do the same (as long as you tell them about it). The opposite is also true – if you keep flying, your friends are more likely to do so too.
Prior to the pandemic, there was an intense debate about flying here in Sweden for a few years, and our international flying decreased by 5-10 percent between 2017 and 2019, after previously increasing by about 3 percent annually. The decline in our air travel contributed to the spread of the aviation debate to many other countries. In September 2019, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) described the ‘flight shame’ movement as the most serious threat to the aviation industry in Europe. Research shows that a 25% minority can influence the majority view and change society. We have to stop having such low opinions of each other and we have to stop waiting for someone else to start. If you start, people will follow! Hopefully, even politicians will follow eventually.
5. Giving up flying isn’t enough, is it?
No, it’s not. But the fact that it isn’t enough is no good reason to keep flying. We need to deal with all our emissions. Ideally we shouldn’t emit another gram of carbon dioxide. It’ll never be enough to eliminate just one source of emissions if we’re to succeed in saving the climate (see point 3). Giving up flying is one of the most important things we as individuals can do to reduce our own climate impact (see point 1). It’s also one of the last things people are prepared to do to save the climate, so once you’ve accepted that flying isn’t sustainable you seem to be more likely to make other lifestyle changes and take action for the climate in other ways. Thus, giving up flying is a clear statement that engages both oneself and people around us (see point 4).
6. Giving up flying is too much of a sacrifice
In our experience, most people find it most difficult before the decision is made, but once they have made up their minds, they find it goes beyond expectations. The focus shifts to how much of a difference you are making and many realise that you can do a lot of fun things without flying. If you stop seeing flying as an option, it no longer feels like a big sacrifice to give it up. For example, we don’t go around fretting about not being able to go to the moon, because it’s not a realistic option. If we are going to succeed in saving the climate, we have to stop focusing on what we want to do, and think about what’s possible instead. No one questions the fact that people who can’t afford to fly don’t fly. We’re more likely to be astonished by people who choose to live beyond their financial means. Anyone who has seen the Scandinavian TV programme ”The luxury trap” or similar programmes like ”Life or debt” or ”Til debt do us part” has probably been astounded at how people can spend much more money every month than they earn. But living beyond our means is what most of us do when it comes to the planet’s limits. The average Swede lives as though we had four Earths. If we want to continue to have a planet to live on we can’t afford to fly. From a global point of view most people can’t afford to fly. It’s the poorest people who will be affected first by the fact that we can afford to (financially). If we don’t sacrifice our air travel, they will have to sacrifice their lives.
7. I´m incurably selfish
Very few people are purely selfish. Rather, most want the good – the reason humanity has become so successful is that we are social, kind and empathetic creatures who care for our weak and help each other. You probably do many selfless things for people around you. Maybe you’re trying to convince yourself that you’re selfish because taking responsibility for the climate feels overwhelming? Besides, even if you were an incurable egoist, you too will be affected by the climate crisis. If you care about yourself, you should do everything in your power to reduce emissions right now.
8. Isn’t it very radical to give up flying?
Giving up flying may seem radical, as the norm of flying is still strong, at least in some circles (though this has started to change). But it’s not radical, it’s trusting science. We shouldn’t emit another gram of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere if we can avoid it. So it’s really more extreme to continue flying given the circumstances. If you were diagnosed with a serious illness and prescribed medication, most people wouldn’t choose not to take it, or only to take half the dosage, saying that otherwise ”it would be too radical”. In fact, giving up flying is not nearly enough. We need to make much bigger changes than that if we are to succeed in limiting global warming to a manageable level.
9. I’ve heard experts say that it’s possible to keep flying
It’s easy to be confused by all the mixed messages we are constantly being surrounded by. Of course it’s important to look at who’s saying what. When people who work in the aviation industry say that we can keep flying, we should obviously take that with a big pinch of salt. But sometimes climate experts, too, say things that make it sound as though it’s okay to keep flying ”a bit”. In these cases it’s important to remember that it’s not scientists’ job to shape opinion, and that they look at their area of research in isolation. For example, people who do research about aviation calculate how much the emissions from air travel need to decrease globally, and they assume that all other sources of emissions will decrease to the same extent, relatively speaking. They also don’t take ethics into account. The fact that it’s deeply unfair that rich people keep flying on holiday, when poor people who have never flown are already dying because of the climate crisis, is one example. There are also many politicians who say that we can keep flying. A lot of people have great confidence in politicians, but it’s important to remember that they are normal people, with the same kinds of defence mechanisms as everyone else. Most politicians aren’t climate experts. Many of them don’t know any more about the climate than the average citizen does (although of course they should take more responsibility and do their homework).
10. I do so many other things for the climate
Many people think that there is room for the occasional flight, as long as you do other good things for the environment, like eating vegetarian, shopping second-hand or cycling to work. The problem is that even if you do all these things and more there’s no room for air travel. Just by being part of, for example, Swedish society you emit a couple of tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. You also have to eat, and live somewhere, and just by doing these things you’ve used up your share of carbon dioxide (see point 1).
In addition, the things most people actually do for the environment only have a marginal effect on the climate. For example, careful recycling can reduce your emissions by 0.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year and not buying water in plastic bottles saves 0.16 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents. This means that a single trip to Thailand (which emits 2.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents according to flightemissionmap.org) takes out the effect of 11 years of recycling or not buying 13 750 bottles of water.
The belief that you can ”compensate” for air travel is common. Research shows that we deal with our environmental impact in the same way we deal with social situations. We can make up for a misstep in a social situation by apologising or saying something nice. In the same way, we hope that the positive effects our actions have on the environment will cancel out the negative ones. We think that we can average out our actions, rather than adding them together. This is why we believe that flying overseas on holiday is okay if we cycle to work. A good tip is to calculate your own emissions. Most people haven’t done this and it’s often a real eye-opener. There are many different tools you can use, for example mossy.earth.
11. I don’t fly domestically/when I fly, I stay away for a long time
Avoiding flying for short trips or staying away for long periods when travelling gives a sense of not flying “unnecessarily”, and of getting “better value” for the emissions. But while the idea is good, a flight between Sweden and New York produces the same amount of emissions whether you stay two nights or two months. The climate doesn’t take into account how valuable your trip is. Although it is of course very unnecessary to fly between Gothenburg and Stockholm (two Swedish cities), as there are excellent train connections on that route, a flight between these places has significantly lower emissions than a flight between Gothenburg and Italy (106 kg vs. 469 kg according to travelandclimate.org).
12. Can I fly if I carbon offset?
Unfortunately, that’s not enough in the current emergency – we shouldn’t emit a single gram of greenhouse gases. The fact that it is possible to support different types of projects that can capture some of the emissions is of course a good thing, but it is very unnecessary to then destroy that effect by flying. We should be offsetting and stop flying. During our lifetime, most people in countries like Sweden have emitted levels of greenhouse gases that are far from sustainable. The carbon dioxide from our air travel stays in the atmosphere for 300 generations. Since the emissions we have already caused cannot be undone, it is an excellent idea to offset them retrospectively.
One of the biggest problems with carbon offsetting is that it signals that there is an easy way to undo our emissions, and that we can maintain our current lifestyle as long as we pay for it. If it were possible to buy our way out of the climate crisis we would have done so a long time ago. By continuing to fly you contribute to maintaining the norm of air travel, which means that people who don’t offset will also continue to fly. A psychological risk of climate compensation is that it can be used to justify environmentally damaging behaviour and thus make the transition to a sustainable society more difficult. If people feel that they have “done their bit”, they may instead fly more than they otherwise would.
Flying also emits greenhouse gases here and now, while tree plantations will only absorb carbon dioxide in the decades to come. And emissions have to decrease now. In addition, carbon offsetting is by no means infallible. According to an evaluation for the EU Commission, as many as 85 percent of carbon offset projects didn’t live up to their promises.
”Offsetting is worse than doing nothing. It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth!” – Kevin Anderson, climate scientist
13. But I love to travel!
If you love to travel, you have all the more reason to give up flying here and now. If we don’t succeed in limiting global warming many areas will become completely uninhabitable. By not flying now, we increase the chances of being able to discover the world in the future.
Not flying doesn’t mean that we can’t travel or experience things. We just have to do it in a different way. According to a Swedish report, emissions from our travel could be reduced by 67 percent without people having to give up the activities they want to take part in by replacing air travel with trains and travel-free meetings.
Although it can be difficult before the decision is made, many people who choose to go flight-free say they even appreciate their travel more than they did when they flew. It’s about changing your perspective, and focusing on what you can actually do without putting too much of a strain on the climate, rather than what you are missing out on. You become more creative in your travel and it becomes more of an adventure when it’s no longer possible to just hop on a plane to get from A to B. When you realise the enormous climate benefits of holidaying close to home, rather than flying, you value it much more highly.
Most Swedes haven’t explored all of Sweden. Why not try a holiday in your own country for a change? Or tap into the staycation trend? Discovering and enjoying places close to home is underrated and also very economical. If you want to travel a bit further, you can get to lots of wonderful places by train. By travelling by train you get to see more of the country you are visiting and you meet more people. The journey itself becomes part of the adventure. At travelandclimate.org you can compare the emissions from different modes of travel and destinations. If you’d like tips on how to travel by train, try seat61.com.
14. My mother-in-law is turning 70/My children will be disappointed/All my friends are flying together
It’s common to feel social pressure to fly, that people around you expect it. But dare to suggest alternatives. You may find that your loved ones also want to do what’s necessary for the climate. After all, it’s not where you are but what you do that matters. Children often cope with change better than adults, and if they realised the future risks of warming, they would most likely want to do all they can to minimise their emissions. Surely no-one thinks that flying on holiday is more important than their future?
15. Some trips are necessary
Yes, some trips are necessary, but that doesn’t legitimise all the ones that aren’t. On the contrary, it’s even more important for us to avoid unnecessary flights, because some are unavoidable. Private flights account for 82 percent of emissions from air travel by Swedes. Of these, the majority are leisure trips, which can be avoided. Of the remaining business trips, a large proportion can also be avoided by using digital meetings or by choosing the train instead. During the pandemic, we have seen that a very significant reduction in air travel is possible; in 2020, international passenger demand was 75 percent below 2019 levels.
For those with close family abroad, it is of course difficult to be completely flight-free. It’s perfectly understandable to want to see your family. At the same time, the climate does not take family relationships into account, and our own families will also be affected by the climate crisis if we do not do everything possible to reduce our emissions now. Anyone with family in other countries should take the train whenever possible, and if air travel is required, it should be minimised. For example, it is better for one person to travel to visit several others, rather than the other way around.
16. Isn’t flying important as it increases our understanding of the world around us?
Flying has given us a lot of good things, including a greater understanding of the world around us. Now we need to use that understanding to realise that we have to do everything we can to help the people that are already suffering from climate change. We have to realise that our lifestyle is destroying their survival. If we want to live in a peaceful world it is of the utmost importance that we slow climate change down now. If emissions aren’t reduced now, and we miss the 1.5 degree target, the risk of more conflicts in the world will increase dramatically.
Although a lot of air travel has been and is important in helping people to meet, not all travel leads to increased understanding. In many cases, the opposite is probably true. Going on a package holiday to a tourist destination to spend time with friends and family doesn’t really contribute to increased understanding of other cultures. In fact, it may give a false idea of what the country looks like beyond the luxury of the resort.
In addition, the people who have travelled the world and gained a deeper understanding of others won’t lose this understanding just from avoiding air travel until we have dealt with the emissions.
17. Don’t we need to keep flying because many people make their living from tourism?
If the reason you fly really is to help others, you could always choose to donate money to those who are dependent on tourism so that they can start other businesses. Even if some people are dependent on tourism in the short term, a lot of tourist destinations are threatened by climate change and may not even be inhabitable in the future. If we’re to build a sustainable world, we’re going to have to help each other. A lot of people are going to have to change jobs, but that will be more economical than helping them to deal with all the costs that climate change will cause.
18. Won’t technology solve the emissions from aviation?
While we may be able to fly climate-smart in the future, unfortunately that won’t solve emissions here and now. According to the IPCC, emissions have to drop by half by 2030 if we are to succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. In the short term, there are no technological solutions that can reduce emissions from air travel enough. Even if emissions per flight do drop, the effect is cancelled out by increased air travel. If we are to succeed in reducing emissions from air travel within the next decade, the only solution is to fly less.
Of course we also need to develop new, green technology. Some people claim that we need to fly more to speed up the development of new technology, but if anything the opposite is true. If there is no demand for fossil-fuelled air travel, airlines will have to invest more resources in developing more sustainable alternatives.
Although the only way to fly in a climate friendly way today is not to fly at all, there is potential to make flying much more sustainable in the future. It would be possible to reduce emissions from Swedish air travel by 90 percent by 2050 – but achieving this would require major changes in both behaviour and technology. Within Sweden and the EU, electric flights could account for 30 percent of the market by 2050, and for the rest of the aviation sector the majority of aviation fuel would be renewable. But it would also require a 50 percent reduction in international air travel, and 70 percent reduction in domestic air travel to achieve the 90 percent reduction that is in line with the climate targets. Even if there is a rapid development of electric aviation (mainly for small planes for shorter distances), it is likely to take decades before it reaches a significant market share because the weight of the batteries in an electric aircraft is 30 times greater than the weight of the equivalent amount of aviation fuel needed for a given distance. In the case of biofuels, these are a limited resource and it is not possible to replace fossil fuels with biofuels today.
19. Won’t the flights leave anyway?
Supply depends on demand. The reason that the number of departures has increased is that there has been demand for more flights. Now that demand is decreasing, fewer planes will be departing, although in the short term this may mean half-full planes taking off.
20. I don’t have time to take the train
Many people feel that they have to fly for work because they don’t have time to take the train. Although the actual trip often takes longer by train, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you lose time. Air travel also includes quite a lot of time to travel to and from the airport as well as checking in, checking out, etc. On the train you can use that time to work or rest instead. For domestic journeys where high-speed trains and air travel compete, trains are (at least in Sweden) often faster than air travel in terms of total journey time.
A lot of people don’t feel they have time to travel by train on holiday either, because the actual journey takes longer. But when you go by train, the journey becomes part of the experience. It can certainly be stressful to travel overseas if you only have one week off. But what would we have done if there weren’t any aeroplanes? Perhaps we would have gone on holiday closer to home. Or travelled less frequently, but would have taken a longer break when we did go on holiday.
Staffan Laestadius, professor emeritus at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, puts it this way: ”Everyone says that they don’t have time. We’ve developed a sense of time which is based on an unsustainable technical solution – air travel. When people talk about expanding the railways an important argument is that going by train should be as fast as flying. Why should it be? People say that we can never compete with air travel. But air travel isn’t actually competitive because it isn’t sustainable. It’s an illusion we’ve built that gives us unrealistic expectations.”
21. Flying is so cheap
Yes, flying is cheap. However, we’re going to pay dearly for the consequences of that. There is no room for more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, no matter how cheap it is to emit it. The reason flying is so cheap is that in places like the EU there are no taxes on aviation fuels or emissions. Airlines in the EU don’t have to pay VAT for international flights either.
The aviation tax that was introduced in Sweden last year is not nearly enough to reduce air travel to a sustainable level. It has made flights within Europe 64 SEK (about 6 USD or euros) more expensive. The tax on flights outside the EU which are shorter than 6 000 kilometres is 265 SEK (about 25 USD or euros) and on longer flights it’s 424 SEK (about 40 USD or euros) per passenger.
Professor Stefan Gössling from Lund University argues that even the airline industry does not benefit from the current system of cheap air travel and overcapacity. According to Stefan, a system with a dramatically reduced supply would make us willing to pay more for the air travel that is available, which would benefit both the climate and the airline industry. Today, aviation is dependent on government support and in Sweden, domestic and international flights are subsidised with at least 10 billions per year. During the pandemic, the government has given many billions more in subsidies to the aviation industry. Although we obviously need to keep the aviation that is necessary for, for example, healthcare and other things, it is not reasonable to support the aviation industry this way in the acute climate crisis we are in.
22. Flying on holiday shouldn’t be a matter of class?
Reducing class distinctions in society is an important issue, but it won’t be solved by continuing to fly in solidarity with those that can’t afford to travel by train. In addition, flying is already very much a matter of class. The majority of the world’s population cannot afford to fly (or even to take a holiday at all); an estimated 80% of the world’s population has never been on an airplane and only 2-4% fly abroad in a year. Even in countries like Sweden many people can’t afford to fly even though it’s relatively cheap. If we are to create a fair and equitable world it is of the utmost importance that we do everything we can to save the climate. The people that are already being hit the hardest haven’t contributed to the climate crisis.
23. Isn’t it unfair that those of us who haven’t flown before shouldn’t get to see the world?
Do we, as adults who may have already flown a lot, really have the right to tell young people not to see the world? And can we tell people in growing economies that they shouldn’t travel the world, now that they can finally afford to? If there was room for more air travel, of course it would be more fair if the people who haven’t flown before could do so, rather than all those of us who already have. But if we’re going to save the climate we can’t think about what’s fair. It’s in everyone’s interest to survive, and young people today have no choice but to minimise their emissions if they want a future. In addition, the people who will never be able to afford to fly are the ones already being affected by the climate crisis, which is much more unfair. Finally – the fact that more and more people are starting to fly makes it even more important for those of us who have already flown to stop.
24. Isn’t encouraging people to give up flying shaming?
The aim of encouraging people to give up flying isn’t to shame them, but rather to get more people to realise how serious the climate crisis is and how important their own actions are. We assume that people wouldn’t choose to fly if they had realised the consequences. The reason people choose to go flight-free is not to avoid feeling ashamed, but rather a realisation of the urgency of reducing emissions and the difference we can make by not flying.
25. Isn’t giving up flying just a trend?
Choosing not to fly is not something you do just to feel good or because others do it. Once you’ve opened your eyes to how unsustainable flying is, there’s no going back, and giving up flying is definitely a trend that’s here to stay. People that give up flying don’t do it to ”feel better about themselves”, but because they want humanity (and all other life on this planet) to survive.
26. Isn’t it too late anyway?
No, it is not too late. However, this is a dangerous attitude because it risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course we won’t solve the climate crisis if everyone thinks it’s too late anyway. Luckily, the opposite is also true – the more people who believe we can solve the climate crisis, the more likely we are to do so. There’s a very simple solution, which is to reduce emissions. The biggest challenge is to get more people to realise that it is possible to save the climate. If you believe that it’s possible to solve the climate crisis, you act in a way that solves it. In a study in which 400 climate researchers and experts were asked if they think solving the climate crisis is possible, 95 percent answered ”yes, it’ll be difficult, but it’s possible”. So the people who know the most about the issue believe that it’s possible to find a solution.
Although we can’t be sure we’ll succeed, of course we have to try. And we won’t either solve the crisis or not – there’s a scale in between. Even in the worst case scenario that it is too late to save humanity, we can still influence the chain of events. The more greenhouse gases we emit, the quicker global warming will be. And the faster it happens, the worse it will be for all the people living on the planet at the moment. There will be more natural disasters, which will result in more refugees, more starvation and more risk of panic and chaos. That means more suffering. If humanity actually is dying out, we still have a moral responsibility to make sure that happens in as humane a way as possible. We should still work towards the best possible society during the time we have left. That’s a better solution for everyone – and we might discover that humanity won’t die out after all.
27. Now that the pandemic is over, I want to fly again/the pandemic flight ban did not solve the climate crisis
Just as we have had to refrain from flying to reduce the spread of covid-19, we have to do so to reduce our climate emissions. But unlike during the pandemic, we don’t have to stop travelling – we just need to do it in other ways. Besides, we can continue to see loved ones and participate in social events.
The pandemic has shown that rapid change is possible. In 2020, air travel by Swedes was reduced by 74 percent compared to the previous year. This decrease is estimated to have saved around five million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, which is as much as the steel manufacturer SSAB (Sweden’s biggest emitter) emits in a year. Internationally, the passenger demand in 2020 was 75,6 percent below 2019 levels and emissions from aviation are estimated to have fallen by 54 percent.
As aviation is often the single largest source of emissions for people in rich countries, many have reduced their individual emissions very significantly. The tool flightemissionmap.org makes it easy to calculate how much emissions that have been saved. For example, a cancelled return flight between Thailand and Sweden reduced emissions by a whopping 2.2 tonnes.
Despite reduced emissions during the pandemic, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continued to rise. This does not mean that we can continue to fly, but that we need to do so much more to reduce emissions. Since a large proportion of emissions remain in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years, carbon dioxide levels will continue to rise until they stop completely. However, each reduction in emissions leads to a slower rate of increase. Besides – if we had stopped flying for the sake of the climate, emissions would have fallen sharply elsewhere too. It would have been the result of widespread climate awareness (individual and political). And if we manage to achieve that, we will do everything in our power to reduce all emissions.