The airplane is an amazing invention that allows us to explore the globe at a whim. We’ve probably all chosen a plane as our main mode of transport when travelling long distances purely because of the convenience. Unfortunately however, flying comes at a huge cost to the environment. For instance did you know that even a short-haul flight, one way from London to Manchester emits 63.9kg of CO2 per passenger if the plane is 70% filled, and 44.7kg if the plane if full.
Compare this to the same journey travelled by train – only emitting 5.2kg per passenger, at 70% capacity, or by coach – only emitting 4.3kg per passenger (estimating 40 people on the coach).
Furthermore, travelling by airplane causes more damage than just the carbon emissions; for instance the water vapour produced such heights form thin clouds that only further contribute to global warming. Therefore travelling by plane has more than twice the impact of the carbon emissions alone. It’s not news, if air travel can be avoided it should be, here’s some helpful information on alternative travel options:
Trains are a great way to travel around that are often forgotten or overlooked. They offer comfort, freedom to move around and some have that excellent service where you can get a toasted sandwich or booze if you feel so inclined, albeit at a slightly inflated price.
Most of the major railway owners are making efforts to be more green, but First Great Western have been particularly vocal about their efforts and have even provided a handy calculator which tells you how much carbon you save on your selected journey, by taking the train instead of driving.
For example taking the relatively short two and a half hour train journey from Exeter to London saves 24.87 kg of carbon dioxide – this is the same amount of energy could power 83 televisions for a day.
What is more, trains can be a viable option for international travel – especially if you’re travelling to or starting your journey in Europe. If you’re simply looking to get to Paris or Brussels, the Eurostar will take you directly there by rail, if you’re looking to go further afield it can be a great way to get across the ocean without flying and those pesky high carbon emissions.
There are various options for travelling across Europe – Road, Rail and Sea is a website which specialises in overland travel all across Europe. If you’re looking for a budget option where you can explore, an interrail card allows you to travel the railways across Europe.
An added benefit of green travel is that it is often also a more economical choice, especially if you choose coach as your option. Coach services are great if you’re going to a specific event, like a festival, many coach companies are designed specifically to cater for this and you’ll be travelling with people all going to the same event as you.
If you’re visiting a specific area in the UK then it might be worth looking into local coach companies who are often able to offer the best deals and are familiar with the surrounding area – for example Maretts Chariots offer coach hire in Norwich. This kind of travel can be great if you’re planning a cheap trip for a large group of travellers.
If you do Fly, Balance your Carbon Footprint
For many of us time is limited resource, especially when it comes to holidays from work, so if you want to travel further afield sometimes you don’t have the luxury of taking slower modes of transport when that would mean days of travel. If you only have a week off work you don’t want to spend half of that on travel and only a few days in your chosen location.
So, there are various ways to try and offset your carbon footprint you create from travelling by airplane. This website lets you enter you journey and tells you how much carbon your flight produces and gives you ideas of how to offset it; such as investing small amounts clean energy, reforestation or tree planting projects.