'Flight shaming' a growing buzzword

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'Flight shaming' a growing buzzword

June 10, 2019 - 23:43
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Swedish movement boosts rail travel

Ascent and Descent

A Swedish-born anti-flying movement is creating a whole new vocabulary, from "flygskam" which translates as "flight shame" to "tågskryt," or "train brag." “Flygskam”, the feeling of being embarrassed to fly due to the environmental impact, has become a social media buzzword along with the hashtag , which translates as . A recent survey published by Swedish Railways (SJ) indicated almost twice as many Swedes chose to travel by train instead of air in the past year and a half, up from 20 percent to 37 percent.

“Flygskam” was a major topic at a recent three-day airline summit in Seoul, but global industry leaders launched a counter-offensive. "Unchallenged, this sentiment will grow and spread," said Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The industry says it is shrinking its carbon footprint and its sustainability plan is among the most ambitious and globally focused of any industry.” Come on, stop calling us polluters," de Juniac said at a news conference after detailing the global initiative.


Questions remain over how the airlines will slow, steady and finally reduce harmful emissions. Commercial flying accounts for about 2.5% of global carbon emissions today but without concrete steps, that number will rise as global air travel increases. The aviation industry has set out a four-pronged plan to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and halve net emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. The industry's plan rests on a combination of alternative fuel, improved operations such as direct flight paths and new planes or other technology.

According to the IATA, use of sustainable fuel would have the single largest impact, reducing emissions from each flight by around 80%. Unfortunately, it is in short supply. "The reality today is there's just not enough and it's too expensive," said KLM CEO Pieter Elbers. KLM recently announced a deal to develop and buy biofuels from Europe's first sustainable aviation fuel plant, due to open in 2022. For now, trains are benefiting from the anti-flight movement, although airline bosses said that option barely exists in their busiest new markets, such as Indonesia.

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