This year has seen the headlines packed full of demands and warnings around climate change action. We’ve seen politicians go face to face in debates alongside Greta Thunberg, and we’ve watched as some countries began to take the charge, while others diminished their solar power efforts. It’s been a big year for clean energy overall, and while there’s been some hiccups, there’s some exciting times ahead for 2020 renewables.
But back home and on the basis of the average Aussie, what exactly can you do to contribute to a more sustainable, brighter future, come the New Year? How can you help ensure our 2020 goals are on track, both nationally and internationally?
We’re dropping the typical news headlines today and switching it out for a handy little guide on how you can enjoy a practical break this Christmas, all the while reducing your carbon footprint.
How to reduce your travel emissions this Christmas
Whether you care deeply about the environment or not, being mindful about the way you go about your average day should still be on your mind. One of these aspects is travelling, and when the festive spirit starts to kick in, so too does the need to arrange your travel plans – be it cross-country or down the road.
If you’re one of the Aussies who will be flying interstate for your Christmas gathering, there may be ways you can swap this out for a more favourable mode of transport. And if you’re asking if flying is really that bad for the environment, let’s take a look at some of the facts around it.
The ABC recently compared a return Melbourne trip to London with a mid-way stopover at Singapore on each flight. Overall, the trip equates to approximately 34,000 kilometres, equallying 120g of emissions created per passenger, every kilometre. That means the entire trip would create approximately 4 tonnes of carbon emissions per person on the flight. Yes, that’s a lot.
Putting that into perspective, if we are going to meet the targets we set at the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate CHange (IPCC) for the year 2030, this must change. That 4 tonnes per passenger for one trip would become more than the total quota for each person on the planet.
In a nutshell, the IPCC warns that we are currently sending out approximately 52 gigatonnes annually around the world. By 2030, this figure must be below 26 gigatonnes.
So imagine you’re set on flying a few trips (or even one) this season. Can you see how this fits into the picture? Every little contribution counts when you have a huge target like that to meet.
How to reduce your emissions if you are flying
Luckily, there are some ways you can still enjoy your time in the sky without burdening the environment too much. Here are a few things to keep in mind when booking your flights:
Assess your choices carefully
If you’re sitting in front of a list of flight times and trying to think of a reason to click the checkout button, maybe there’s room for thought that you don’t need to get on the plane at all. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t have enough reasons to get on the flight – just don’t. Sounds simple enough.
But most of the time, that’s not exactly a choice you can make, so when you are preparing your trip, broaden your horizons to see how you can get the most out of it. Perhaps there are more friends over in the area that you can visit while you’re on a business trip for the summer; maybe there’s something worthwhile setting up in your destination that’s super special. Make your trip worth the emissions and the cost.
Avoid travelling if you can
Essentially, domestic air travel creates more emissions than flying overseas – believe it or not. That’s because the fuel burned off in the taking off and landing consumes a whole load of fuel, giving out more emissions. Shorter flights may mean less time in the air, but they also mean less pollution.
So, if there’s a chance you can switch out the plane for a good, old road trip in your 4WD, then prep your car and hit the road. Chances are you’ll see a few things along the way that you wouldn’t have seen on a plane, anyway.