Have you heard the latest travel buzzword? If not, in your very best Swedish accent we invite you to shout out FLYGSKAM, which means ‘Flight Shame’ in English.
FLYGSKAM is an anti-flying environmental movement that started in Sweden and is now making its way across the globe. It was designed to encourage people to lower their carbon footprint by no longer flying, and as the name would suggest, anyone who does board a plane should feel ashamed or embarrassed because of the negative impact air-travel has on the planet.
A movement backed by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist who made headlines in 2018 when she initiated a worldwide school strike against climate change, Flygskam has garnered quite a following over the past 6-months, with Swedish celebrities and sports stars such as Olympic athlete Bjorn Ferry pledging to stop flying and travel more by rail.
There is even a Flygskam Instagram Account with more than 17,000 followers, and the movement doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The environmental impact of aviation is well-documented, and while direct emissions from the global aviation industry account for just 2% of all human-induced CO2 emissions (ATAG), air travel is still the most polluting means of transport. Budget airlines with cheap flights have added to the ‘problem’ by encouraging more of us to take to the skies, but is rail travel a practical alternative?
Travelling across Europe by rail is a surprisingly affordable and wonderful way to get around if you have the time, but with busy jobs, busy lives, and a limited amount of holidays per year, many of us look for the shortest and fastest routes to our chosen destinations, which is invariably by air.
While I think any environmental movement is a good idea, I’m not sure that we should be made to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or anything else for boarding a long-haul flight. There are far bigger polluters out there than the individual heading off on holiday, and while we must all do our bit, is flight shaming a good way to raise awareness? We’ll let you be the jury on that!