Travel is Terrible for the Planet — and I am Element of the Dilemma • Indie Traveller


I have a confession to make. I’m killing the planet.

I on a regular basis hop on a plane to some far-flung location — just for enjoyable and for the reason that I really feel like it. Barrels of kerosene are then burned on my behalf, blasting literal tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I do this dozens of instances a year.

It ought to be clear why this is terrible. Climate adjust is the largest challenge of our instances, but my travel life style is not specifically assisting.

It depends on which carbon calculator I use, but my trips this year will probably have been accountable for emitting anyplace among five and 10 metric tons of CO2e.

That may well be a bit abstract, so let’s place that in viewpoint.

Back household, I have a pretty low-carbon intensive life. I do not personal a auto, I do not consume substantially meat, and I get about Lisbon mainly by shared electric motorbikes. Great stuff!

But here’s my estimate for the previous year, according to a UN carbon footprint calculator, which also shows how substantially of my carbon footprint is due to flying:

Holy crap!

Clearly, my private carbon footprint is out of handle, and it is mainly due to travelling. Even if I decrease my carbon footprint in other places, one particular or two a lot more flights will very easily cancel this out.

This is not some thing travel bloggers or travellers appear to speak about typically. But it is an crucial concern, in particular provided that the reports about climate adjust are obtaining increasingly dire. The UN has not too long ago warned that we have just 12 years left to keep away from a climate catastrophe. Other reports recommend the globe is not at all on track to slow climate adjust.

By the way, a staggering eight% of all international emissions come from tourism. The travel neighborhood ought to be speaking about this a lot a lot more.

But it is a thorny concern. Likely in element for the reason that, realistically, it is not possible to travel in a way that is genuinely environmentally friendly. As other people have pointed out, sustainable travel does not exist. Whichever way you appear at it, you will be performing harm by utilizing fossil fuel-powered autos to move about the planet. The technologies required to be a genuinely accountable traveller do not but exist or have not but been implemented.

What we can at least do for now is to moderate our use of the most polluting forms of transportation. Planes are about 20 instances worse per kilometer than trains, for instance. It does not generally make sense to travel overland, but cutting unnecessary flights is absolutely a way to decrease your carbon footprint.

I as soon as had a heated discussion with a buddy about climate adjust, who took issues to a logical intense and recommended I ought to just cease flying altogether. It is the only ethical decision, he mentioned. But it was specifically uncomplicated for him to say, as he by no means flies (out of worry of flying). When it is a good thought in theory, I also have to reside my life. Travel offers me far also substantially joy to give up, so for now, I’m afraid I do nonetheless want to fly a quantity of instances a year.

But I nonetheless want to do some thing.

I’ve believed about how I could make some other type of constructive influence, and I came up with a couple of strategies.

1. Offsetting my flights

Firstly, I’m now offsetting the carbon emissions of all my flights. This indicates that just about every pound of carbon emitted will be compensated by way of several green improvement projects.

Offsetting remains a tiny controversial, as it does not genuinely tackle the root difficulty. But I assume it is improved than nothing at all, at least till a lot more permanent options are obtainable. If offsetting sounds a bit technical, just assume of it as an environmental donation that will decrease the CO2 in the atmosphere equal to what you are placing in by flying (for instance, by developing a lot more windmills or solar panels).

You can often pick out to offset your flights by ticking a box when you book your flight (as some airlines give you this solution). You can also do it by way of third-parties, which is a bit much easier. I settled on the German firm Atmosfair, just after reading some great testimonials.

Offsetting does not have to price you a fortune: for instance, it is about 25 EUR for a return trip from London to Bangkok. Roughly speaking, that is only about five% you spend further to compensate for the damaging effects of your flight on the atmosphere.

two. Renewables investment

Like quite a few other nerds, I’ve dabbled in hodling Bitcoin. It is, sadly, a horribly polluting currency. It is been calculated that all cryptocurrencies combined use as substantially CO2 a year as one particular million transatlantic flights.

A year ago I sold my Bitcoin and place the proceeds into renewable power funds. I’m now placing surplus revenues from Indie Traveller into clean tech as effectively. It is possibly a terrible technique to invest in only one particular market, but I see this as a lot more an activist point than a way to get returns. Investing in cleantech also aids make me assume of my travel weblog (which is eventually really frivolous) as some thing a bit a lot more meaningful.

If this thought appeals to you also, take into account placing savings into either a conventional green mutual fund (e.g. by way of your bank) or shopping for ETFs. The latter can be a lot less expensive and much easier. In the US, you can invest in cleantech ETFs very easily utilizing the Robinhood app. In Europe, this will quickly be attainable through Revolut.

three. Supporting Cool Earth

Ultimately, I’ve been providing my help for some time now to Cool Earth, an organization that is functioning to halt rainforest destruction. They do this by creating sustainable livelihoods for regional villagers, who then turn into forest protectors, with a number of villages at some point forming barriers against loggers and miners. Forests are an crucial carbon sink, so the a lot more we can retain them standing, the improved. (Not to mention their huge ecological worth, of course.)


To be clear, none of this tends to make my flying habit any much less terrible. My privileged ass is nonetheless flying about the globe quite a few instances a year and shitting up the planet. These are just mitigation tactics. But I’m at least hoping to make some type of net constructive influence.

Possibly someday we’ll have airplanes powered by sustainable synthetic fuels — and then all of this will be moot. Or perhaps we’ll have to give up a lot of our lengthy-distance travelling in the future. I have totally no thought which way it will go.

But if nothing at all else, I assume we should be a lot more mindful of the environmental expenses of travelling. Offsetting is possibly a great commence. But we also have to have to have a broader conversation about sustainability, and (most importantly) vote for political leaders committed to addressing climate adjust.

How can travellers decrease the damaging impacts of their travelling — or at least make constructive impacts elsewhere? I’d adore to hear your thoughts in the comments.


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