The British are the most active flyers in the world, with every 1 in 12 international passenger being British. At the same time aviation has been one of the fastest growing emitters of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) worldwide. 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).
Choosing not to fly abroad, but travel to a destination closer to home using an alternative mode of transportation will therefor always save a considerable amount of carbon. For many people it will be one of the most effective ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
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.
With international travel being restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic, many UK residents turned to UK destinations for their holidays. The divers British countryside has a lot to offer.
Visit Britain is a UK Government supported campaign to promote holiday destinations in the UK. They also encourage hospitality businesses to register for the ‘We’re good to go’ certificate which indicates that those businesses are compliant with Covid-19 regulations and are therefore safe to use. Amongst others, the National Trust offers holiday cottages within their sites.
Alternative modes of transport
The train is the most environmentally friendly alternative to flying, but might not be an option for people who are concerned about social distancing. Trainline is a good platform to find cheap train fares and connections. Train fares can be expensive but booking early, outside the peak season and investing in a railcard can help save money on tickets.
Especially cost effective alternatives to flying are busses, like the National Express services.
For those who do not wish to travel by train to health concerns or other reasons, the car can be a less carbon intensive alternative to flying. Especially if the car is driven efficiently (little stop and go traffic, consistent and not too high speeds, fully occupied with passengers) it can save more than 25% of emissions, compared to a flight.
Flight Free 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.