Flying off on a city weekend break or for a few days to unwind on the beach? As wonderful as a change of scenery is, its impact on the climate should not be underestimated. Climate campaigners regularly underline that every person who flies is one too many. Not flying at all in future is unrealistic. But we may well fly less. The term ‘flight shame’ has already entered our vocabulary: it refers to the shame of air travellers who are aware of the environmental consequences of flying but choose to do it anyway. You may be interested in the following three facts about Swiss air travel habits and their impact which are cause for reflection.
Will we all have to give up flying? Keyword: sustainability
What are Swiss people’s flight travel habits and what impact does this have on the climate? Three facts about flying.
How many flights do you take each year?
Fact 1: Swiss people fly twice as often as their neighbours
Switzerland is a nation of frequent air travellers. The latest survey by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) on this topic shows that the average Swiss person travelled 8,986 kilometres by air – out of a total of 24, 849 kilometres – on average in 2015. The number of flights taken per inhabitant and year soared by 43 percent between 2010 and 2015. High earners fly five times more frequently than those on low incomes. How does Switzerland fare compared to other countries? With 1.6 flights per person, the air travel mobility of the Swiss population is twice as high as that in neighbouring Germany, Austria, Italy and France.
Fact 2: The destination of three out of four flights from Switzerland is within Europe
The aeroplane is also the Swiss population’s first-choice mode of transport for shorter journeys. According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO), only a small proportion of air travel is to a destination on another continent. 77% of travel destinations are within Europe. Although top destinations, such as London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Vienna, can be reached in a more eco-friendly way by rail, most travellers still decide to fly. The fact that flight tickets are often cheaper than rail tickets may also be a key factor. According to WWF Switzerland, the climate impact of a flight from Zurich to Berlin is 30 times greater than a journey by train.
Fact 3: Air travel accounts for around a fifth of climate impact
At around 11 million tonnes of CO2 , national and international air traffic accounted for 19 percent of Switzerland’s climate impact resulting from human activities in 2017, according to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). And the number of passengers flying from Swiss airports stood at just over 50 million. Forecasts by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) indicate this figure will rise to 78 million by 2030.
Avoid, reduce or at least offset
The facts clearly show that flying should be avoided as far as possible. Alternatives, such as rail travel, may be available or perhaps a different destination could be chosen. And if you absolutely have to fly, you should at least try to reduce your personal footprint by offsetting CO2 emissions – for example, via myclimate or South Pole. Travel emissions can be calculated and offset on the websites of these organizations. And you decide which projects should receive funding.