Is train a feasible alternative to flying?

As I write this I’m sitting on a train headed back to Sweden, pondering the result of a year’s experimentation with travelling by train instead of flying. Is this an effective way to reduce my carbon footprint? The jury is in! Read on.

One common rallying cry among climate advocates is to fly less (or ideally not at all). I consider myself a climate advocate (here’s my entry ticket), but I’m also a pragmatist. I’ve worked enough with behavioural change to know that it’s unrealistic to expect many people to change their habits unless there is a convenient and compelling alternative. For example, Spotify killed music pirating, not by attacking pirate sites, but by providing a better and more convenient alternative.

So what are the alternatives to flying, if you want to get from A to B?

  • Option A: Don’t go. Stay at A. This option won’t fly (pun intended) with most people. There’s a reason why they want to go from A to B, and only a small number of people will be willing to sacrifice that (kudos to those people though!).
  • Option B: Walk or bicycle. Not feasible. A distance that is long enough to take a flight is usually waaay too long for a walk or bicycle ride, unless you are an enthusiast with LOTS of time on your hands.
  • Option C: Car. This makes sense only if you travel in a group, or if you drive an electric car. If you drive alone in a fuel car, the climate impact is about the same as flying, just takes longer and is more dangerous and clogs up the road.
  • Option D: Bus. I haven’t found any long-distance bus options  to the places I go. Might be more feasible in other countries than mine.
  • Option E: Train. Is train a feasible alternative? Definitely climate friendly, but what about price, convenience, reliability, and time? Read on!

Continue reading “Is train a feasible alternative to flying?”

Trump Withdraws U.S. from Paris Climate Agreement

Trump withdraws U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement and thereby the U.S. role as a leading country towards a sustainable future. America First seems to mean America Alone, and make America Great Again seems not to include solving global problems and making Our Planet Great Again.

So what does this mean for all of us who wants to combat climate change? When the U.S. as the worst CO2 polluting country in history does not take responsibility, the challenge of slowing down climate gets bigger.

But we still have our hopes up; it just means that the rest of us needs to do quite a bit more – if we are to try to slow down climate change at all. So what can we do? It’s awkwardly easy (on a personal level at least): fly less, eat less meat, invest green, commute green and go climate neutral now.

Connection between Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change from 1912

I found an old newspaper clip from 1912 talking about the possibly dangerous link between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and climate change. But we continued and accelerated the digging up of extreme amounts of coal from the ground and let it out into the atmosphere. The next generation won’t be very happy with us I’m afraid.

Source: A 1912 news article ominously forecasted the catastrophic effects of fossil fuels on climate change

Living within our carbon budget

Prof. Kevin Anderson from Uppsala University explains the concept of carbon budget really well in the video “Living within our carbon budget: the role of politics, technology and personal action” on YouTube. It’s a glimpse into the free online course Climate Change Leadership, that I truly can recommend.

First reduce, then offset

The best way to fight climate change is to reduce your own climate footprint. There are lots of things you can do to live a more climate neutral life without having to offset anything.

  1. Eat Wisely. Eat less animal products and more plant based and locally produced food.
  2. Commute Green. Take your bike to work. If that’s not possible, take the subway, the bus or the train.
  3. Fly less and try going to faraway places by train. Go on local holidays and have more business meetings via Skype.
  4. Invest Green. Invest in renewable energy funds and in green companies. Stay away from oil, coal and companies that are not taking their climate impact seriously.

There are lots of other things you can do as well. Be creative!

When you’re having a hard time reducing your climate footprint further, offset what you can’t reduce.