Overnight Breaks, Travel

Why We Need to Stop Saying “It’ll Go Without Me” When It Comes to Air Travel

“It’ll go without me” is a common excuse about air travel that needs to stop if we want to be part of the solution to our climate emergency.

I was in a cafe the other day, the kind of cafe where the tables are squashed together just a little too close to one another for comfort. I had come for peace and quiet, and as I took my seat at the only free table, I immediately regretted my choice of cafe. Two women were sat at the table next to me chatting quite loudly, and as I drank my cup of tea and scribbled some notes, I tried to tune out their chatter.

My ears pricked, however, when their conversation turned to holidays. One woman revealed to the other that she and her husband had booked a family holiday abroad, and whilst she was excited about the holiday, she had recently watched David Attenborough’s Climate Change: The Facts. and felt terrible guilt over the flights it would entail and the impact on the environment. Her friend, being the good friend, told her not to worry because that flight would go anyway, whether she was on the flight or not, and the act of her flying on this particular flight wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the environment.

I bit my tongue because I’m not the kind of person that would butt into the conversation of strangers (though it seems I’m the type of person that would recount the conversation of strangers on the internet!), but I couldn’t help but wish we could stop spreading the false notion of “it’ll go without me” when it comes to transport, particularly air travel.

Profits, Not a Public Service

When it comes to air travel, you have to remember that flight operators are businesses – they don’t just exist to perform a public service – so money is everything. Flights and routes need to be profitable otherwise services get cut. So yes, in the short term that one flight probably will go without you, but in the long term the fewer people that choose to fly, the fewer flights and fewer runways are required, and the less profitable aviation becomes, meaning the “it’ll go without me” notion becomes a hollow excuse.

Of course, some air travel can be unavoidable. Work trips, trips to see family and friends abroad, or living on a small island with little alternative, can mean few alternatives to flying. However, 47% of Britons are willing to fly less because of climate change (ignore the doom and gloom right wing headline, 47% of Britons is HUGE). If almost half the country stopped flying for avoidable trips – e.g. to go on holiday abroad – the numbers of flights would be cut back drastically to reflect the downturn in demand.

Of course, it’s not just Brits that need to stop flying to be able to reduce flights, but no-fly campaigns are growing in Europe, and I would imagine will catch on more and more as interest and awareness in our climate emergency gathers momentum – particularly when one transatlantic flight can add as much to your carbon footprint as a typical year’s worth of driving (and that’s just one way).

Be Part of the Solution

So the “it’ll go without me” excuse doesn’t hold weight: like most environmental actions, while you won’t save the world on your own by not flying, you will certainly be part of the solution by not flying when you don’t need to.

If you want to really be part of the solution when it comes to air travel then consider the value of social proof. This survey on fast fashion, for example, showed that a staggering 90% of respondents would shop secondhand if their friends or family did so first. Therefore, it would hold if more of us holiday in the UK and talk to our friends and family about our holiday,s then the more people that will consider the value of holidaying without flying anywhere.

One of my Scottish friends took a holiday in the north of Scotland over Easter and shared the photos on Facebook. Two Scottish people commented that the photos of the trip had inspired them to holiday in Scotland, which on a micro-scale highlights the value of social proof:

And living in the UK, we really are spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful spots to holiday in – there’s no shortage of places to go. From city breaks to beach holidays, to forests to mountains, we really do have it all.

It’ll Go Without Me Applies to Public Transport Too

The same “it’ll go without me” mentality when it comes to public transport is another one that needs to stop, because, like with airlines, if people don’t use their local bus and rail networks, they will cease to run too.

Whilst many bus routes are subsidised by local authorities, these routes still have to be profitable. When bus routes get cut, these cuts hit the poorest the most. The more we use public transport, the better for the environment and the better for those on lower incomes too, which is true sustainability.

Over to you: do you holiday in the UK? Have you cut back on your flying because of climate change? Would you cut back on your flying because of climate change? I’d love to hear!

weekend links

Ten Things

Hello! There’s not been a lot to write about this week – it’s definitely been a slow news week, climate and environmental news wise ;) I joke – let’s dive straight in because it’s been a busy old week:

This week’s links:

1. After Scotland and Wales both declared climate emergencies this week, Westminster declared a climate emergency on Wednesday, making the UK parliament the first in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency”. Massive thanks to all involved in Youth Strike 4 Climate and Extinction Rebellion for leading the way and to everyone who contacted their local MP pressing them on this issue. Now we await action.

2. Related: we just might be at a tipping point on how seriously the world treats climate change.

Sometimes it might seem like democracies, with their short political cycles, are unable to take the sort of action on climate change that requires long-term thinking… But democracies, by their inherent nature, are more accountable. That accountability, combined with commitments to global pacts like the Paris agreement, can spur them to act for the greater good. In its report, the UK’s Climate Change Committee said the country should “ideally begin redressing” its historical contributions to global emissions. Setting an ambitious net-zero goal would set an example for other countries to follow. The ease with which the climate-emergency motion passed in parliament shows that Britain’s political parties acknowledge the privileged position its economy commands thanks to its past consumption of fossil fuels.

3. What an interesting read on why your brain doesn’t register the words ‘climate change’.

Which phrase does a better job of grabbing people’s attention: “global warming” or “climate change”? According to recent neuroscience research, the answer is neither. If you want to get people to care, try “climate crisis,” suggests new research from an advertising consulting agency in New York. That phrase got a 60 percent greater emotional response from listeners than our old pal climate change.

4. In California, their latest weapon against climate change is as low-tech as they come – weeds.

5. Biodegradable isn’t the answer.

6. The Government’s fracking commissioner has resigned – citing environmental activists, and them being “highly successful” in encouraging the government to curb fracking as a key part of her resignation. Yesssss – what a victory!

7. Can you be a fashion lover and a feminist at the same time?

8 Climate change activists in the US have begun using a legal argument called the “necessity defense,” which justifies non-violent action taken to prevent a greater harm.

Under this argument, defendants can be acquitted of an act that is technically illegal. Like its better-known cousin, the doctrine of self-defense, it permits a judge and jury to consider context and morality.

9. Following along and offering virtual support with Mothers Rise Up. If you’re in London you can join them on 12th May.

10. Finally, this post by Paul Jarvis on keeping up with the Insta-Joneses is a great piece on consumerism and envy. Don’t have time to read it all – unfollow anyone on social media who makes you feel like you’re not good enough because you’re not wearing the latest clothes, or constantly on fancy holidays.