Sweden has a name for a growing trend that has some air travelers feeling guilty about their carbon footprint: flygskam, or flight shame.
Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and activists such as 16-year-old Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg are fuelling the flight-shame push by highlighting aviation’s role in global warming.
Citigroup predicts that flight shaming will raise costs for airlines, consumers and companies.
But one of Sweden’s best-known citizens is not a fan of the rising push to discourage travel, according to a report by Douglas Bolduc of Automotive News Europe.
“I think you’re on a very dangerous path when you say, ‘No, you should not fly,’ ” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said recently. “One of the most important factors to promote cultural understanding between people is travel.”
While automakers such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volkswagen are moving to electrify a wide range of models the aviation industry continues to warn that reducing carbon emissions will take years, if not decades.
Samuelsson believes more could be done.
“Couldn’t Airbus and Boeing and others try to do something to make sustainable air travel a part of their mission?” he asked.
Added Samuelsson: “We should recognize that if a market-driven enterprise is done the right way it should result in true sustainability.”
According to Simple Flying, the aviation industry is set to launch a campaign to combat the growing flight shaming movement led by Thunberg. The campaign comes as weakened demand has been reported in Europe.
The flight shaming movement is growing in momentum across Europe. The movement sees passengers shunning flights for other methods of transport such as trains and cars, the report said.
The aviation industry is responsible for just 2.5% of global CO2 emissions. However, despite giving off fewer emissions than other industries, and trying to make a positive difference, the aviation industry has become the face of emissions across the globe.
This compares to around 10% from the global fashion industry according to the United Nations, the report said.
Citi estimates that over the next five years the cost of carbon offsetting economy flights will grow to US$3.8 billion per year. It will either be absorbed by the consumer or the airline, CNBC reported.
But really the airline gets hit in both scenarios since if the price is absorbed by passengers, the higher cost could lead to an overall slowdown in air travel.
Álex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, which last week promised to offset all domestic flight emissions, said the airline would make it easier for customers to voluntarily offset international flights, The Guardian reported.
He said there were “huge areas of opportunity” to cut emissions via better air traffic management, while changes such as lighter food trolleys on BA’s fleet had cut 30,000 tons a year of CO2 emissions.
Virgin’s new feeder airline, Virgin Connect (formerly Flybe), could axe some routes over environmental concerns, its boss suggested. Mark Anderson, the chief executive of the parent company Connect Airways, said it might decide certain journeys made more sense by train or car.
He told PA news agency: “We need to be responsible. Maybe there are some routes in the future that we will potentially not fly.”