Travel plans

October 21st, 2019

I’m returning to the ‘thorny issue’ of flying today…..

As many of you will know by now, a Department for Transport survey has revealed that nearly a fifth of all flights abroad are taken by only 1% of residents in England. The 10% most frequent flyers took more than half of all international flights in 2018.

So, a frequent flyer levy is being proposed (it even made the front page of The Times the other day) – at long last…! Each citizen would be allowed one tax-free flight a year but would pay progressively higher taxes on each additional flight.

So, most of us are not to blame… But I must admit I still find it difficult to hear about friends and family planning flights. Then I think about the admirable yearning of the young to explore and experience other places & cultures – should it just be us older people, as well as the ‘problem flyers’, who set an example…?

I’m very heartened anyway, by the news that Eurostar has reported its busiest August ever, with more than a million passengers demonstrating a desire for sustainable travel.

And, amazingly, KLM (honouring its pledge to ask people to ‘fly responsibly’) will reduce its daily flights between Amsterdam and Brussels from March, offering customers a high-speed train seat instead!

By contrast, unfortunately, Ryanair is unashamedly trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

In very prominent tv adverts it describes itself as Europe’s ‘greenest’ and ‘cleanest’ airline.

According to The Telegraph’s digital travel editor, 9.9 megatonnes of carbon dioxide was ‘belched into our atmosphere in 2018’ by Ryanair’s 419 aircraft collectively, making it one of the continent’s 10 biggest carbon emitters, according to a European Commission report. The other nine are all coal-fired power stations…

So, don’t fly Ryanair, if you’re going to fly at all!

Part of me despairs that there is a big group of people/us who do not care enough about the environmental disaster to make any changes to their/our lives; and, sadly, I am still depressed by the many companies/investors who put profit above anything else. BUT here’s a crumb of comfort! The International Air Transport Association’s chief economist said climate is now ‘top of the agenda’ for investors. Climate issues had apparently come up an average of seven times on calls between European airlines and investors in 2019, compared with an average of less than one per call in the four years between 2013 and 2017. Brian Pearce said: “Climate change is not just an issue for protesters or scientists…. We’re getting pressure from all quarters.”

Now, a little foray into the climate world of food & farming – I just wanted to remark that in the recent Panorama ‘experiment’ programme, the young sons of the family turned their noses/mouths up at the soya milk on their cereal. … I don’t blame them! Soya doesn’t taste nearly as nice as oat milk. Also, a proportion of the soya beans imported to this country comes from Brazil and deforested areas.. Hopefully, the oat milk manufacturers will be able to keep up with increasing demand…..

And, good news just come in a few moments ago, roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution has reduced by a third as a result of Ultra Low Emission Zones in London.

I’ve written to the Bristol Mayor to ask that things are improving locally, too (and hopefully, where you are…?).

And I’ve heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury – well, from his ‘communications’ office.

I was given a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby – “as a Christian, responding to the climate emergency is not optional – it’s essential. “We’re called to protect God’s creation and love our neighbour. It’s inspiring to see young people so passionate about protecting God’s creation and calling our attention to the climate emergency. Thank you for showing us where our priorities should be.”

The office continued by telling me that the Church of England has committed to playing a leading role in the fight against dangerous climate change, including through the Church’s ethical investment activities. The Church’s National Investing Bodies continually ensure that their investment policies are ‘aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities’ of the Church on climate change. There are many ways to demonstrate ethical investment including active engagement with companies and policy makers, and the Church continues to treat climate change as an urgent ethical issue of the utmost importance – including in its practice of ethical investment. 

No mention of Justin Welby’s past in the oil industry, but there you go….!

And he doesn’t actually say he admires XR, focussing instead on the young people/activists.

I was interested to read that one of the XR protesters in the London Underground action that got such negative response from the public was a woman from Christian Climate Action. She said she was ‘deeply sorry’ for the ordinary working people who became caught up in the protest but said the inconvenience caused ‘paled into insignificance compared with the chaos of climate breakdown’ unless immediate systemic action is taken. (They were trying to target the City)

She went on to lament that the road blocking etc was not getting heard. I wonder if there really are still people who are oblivious… I fear so…

But I’ll end on two positive notes. Well, the first will be once I’ve heard that it’s not greenwashing…. Volvo are advertising that ‘Electric is not Enough’ – starting now, they say, every new Volvo model will be electrified, but also that by 2025 all their manufacturing plants will run on renewable energy, with a vision to be climate neutral by 2040…. A Swedish company, after all, so I’m hopeful…!

And, finally, a group of young people has started a ‘Teach the Future’ campaign, determined to embed climate change education in the national curriculum ‘to avoid the mistakes of the past’.

Please support them, by signing and sharing (www.teachthefuture.uk).

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