The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented a report in 2018 which suggested that global citizens would have to take extreme measures to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. One of these changes would also include less air travel. Social scientist, Roger Tyers, has stopped flying for work or vacation. Even for the fieldwork in China, he made sure to take the train from Southampton to Shanghai, which was a 2-week long journey. His research requires fieldwork, travel, and around 7 weeks. He estimated that his train travels generated 10% emission compared to the emission created by air travel.
Now, many people may feel as if they do not get the same connection as one would if they meet face-to-face and that they would get a better chance at learning or understanding if they meet in person. Despite the struggle, there is no denying that climate change has had devastating effects. The past year has been a demonstration of record-high temperature and many wildfires all over the globe. The world also faced tragic natural devastation in the form of typhoons in Asia, flooding in Sudan, and drought in southern Africa.
What Can We Do?
Climate scientists talk about multiple ways to combat the rising issue but, in terms of traveling, they suggest limiting it. The pandemic has highlighted many ways to stay connected while being miles apart, such as video conferences, webinars, and virtual sessions of all types.
Apart from the benefits for the climate, it can also help those out who are short on funds for airfare and, not to mention, the issues that come regarding visas. Lastly, virtual events are more accessible for disabled people making them more inclusive.
Scientists at Work
Climate scientist, Katherine Hayhoe, attended many meetings in which she had to fly to many regions to either attend conferences or speak at the conferences. Now, in order to keep her carbon footprint at minimal, she tries to squeeze in as many events as she can in the same region requiring less travel.
She also invests in buying carbon offset to minimize her carbon footprint. Climate researcher, Stephen Flood, has the same approach as Katherine Hayhoe. He believes in sailing whenever he can and buys carbon offsets when he has no choice but to fly in an airplane.
Though these steps may seem tough and restrictive, we need to bring a change before the climate condition worsens.