Aviation has been one of the fastest growing emitters of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) worldwide over the last decade. Even though the travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in an abrupt drop in air mileage in 2020, the international trend over the last years is still very concerning in regards to the environmental impact of flights. In the UK international aviation created 37 MtCO2e in 2018 (this is roughly as much as all emissions created by HGVs and vans added up).
This Guardian article points out that flying from London to New York and back generates about 986kg of CO2 per passenger. This more carbon than the average person in 56 other countries around the world (from Burundi in Africa to Paraguay in South America) emits in a whole year.
Even though a shorter flight, e.g. within Europe, still creates around 256 kgCO2 per return trip, replacing a far away holiday destination with one closer to the UK, can save 60-85% of emissions from that one holiday.
The idea is simple: Fly as little as possible, and if you have to fly, choose shorter flights.
Avoid long-distance flights as much as possible. Research whether the benefits of your far-away destination can be found closer to home. Did you know that you can not only surf in the South of France or Portugal, but also Cornwall and other British locations? You can explore volcanoes and amazing wild life on the Azores or Iceland as well as Ireland.
Find destinations as close to home as possible and replace as much of your journey as you can with alternative modes of transport, e.g. instead of flying to Amsterdam to catch a overseas flight, take the train or choose another connection that is more direct.
Flight Free UK
The British are the most active flyers in the world, with every 1 in 12 international passenger being British. However we are a nation where a minority is taking the majority of flights: Only half of adults in the UK have actually taken a flight in the last two years. So it is quite possible not to fly, even if you live in the UK.
Flight Free has launched a challenge to go without flying for a whole year. What seems easy for some, can be a real challenge for others. The organisation offers more background information on the issue of flying and support to make the pledge a success.