How to travel in an environmentally-friendly way

by Rebecca Macfie / 22 December, 2017

Taking a holiday at home is better for the planet than cruising on a ship powered by bunker fuel. Photo/Getty Images

Canadian climate scientist Brett Favaro offers a few tips to reduce your carbon footprint when you travel – first, stay off those cruises. 

From a climate change perspective, “anything you can do to keep yourself out of a plane will generally be a good decision”, writes Canadian climate scientist Brett Favaro in his 2017 book The Carbon Code. “Flight is a luxury. Every time we travel by air, we are accountable for a large amount of carbon pollution. Climate justice demands that we examine this carefully.”

Favaro offers a range of tips to help wean us off the frequent-flying habit.

  • Measure your movements: Use a carbon calculator to work out the carbon cost of your travel.
  • Don’t go: Rather than starting from the default position that a given flight is necessary, start from the assumption that it is not, and only take the trip when you have established that it is essential.
  • Get downgraded: Don’t fly in first class or business class. Because those passengers take up more space on the plane, their carbon footprint is much higher than that of an economy-class seat.
  • Virtually there: Instead of flying to meetings, try alternatives such as videoconferencing, Skype or Google Hangouts.
  • Hit the road: If you do need to be there, consider whether there is an alternative to flying. If three or four of you need to travel, it might be better to share a car journey than for everyone to fly.
  • Two-for-one: Try to achieve more than one goal on any trip.
  • Pay it forward: When you do fly, offset the emissions with credits that represent genuine, permanent carbon reduction.
  • Think local: Consider a staycation rather than a distant destination, or at least consider holidaying somewhere closer to home.
  • Sea no evil: Don’t be tempted to replace flying somewhere for your holiday with an ocean cruise. “Cruise liners are usually powered by bunker fuel, which is one of the dirtiest forms of fuel,” says Favaro. “They emit large volumes of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and carbon dioxide. It takes a lot of energy to move a floating city through water, and even if the boat is full of thousands of passengers, this translates to a lot of CO2 per person.”

THE CARBON CODE: HOW YOU CAN BECOME A CLIMATE CHANGE HERO, by Brett Favaro (Johns Hopkins University Press)

This article was first published in the November 4, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.


How to know if you are being sexually harassed at work
89757 2018-04-23 00:00:00Z Social issues

How to know if you are being sexually harassed at …

by The Listener

The Employment Relations Act is very clear about what constitutes sexual harassment in New Zealand.

Read more
Some corner of an English field
89918 2018-04-22 00:00:00Z History

Some corner of an English field

by Pamela Wade

Pamela Wade visits a village in rural England and finds the war-time deaths of her uncle and his two Kiwi-airmen mates have not been forgotten.

Read more
The brain researcher who was diagnosed with a brain tumour
89704 2018-04-22 00:00:00Z Profiles

The brain researcher who was diagnosed with a brai…

by Clare de Lore

Few people could be better suited than Louise Nicholson to deal with a brain tumour diagnosis.

Read more
Discovering the majesty and fragility of New Zealand kauri
88483 2018-04-22 00:00:00Z Environment

Discovering the majesty and fragility of New Zeala…

by Josie Stanford

A twilight tour in Waipoua Forest highlights the majesty, and the fragility, of our mighty kauri.

Read more
Sweet Country – movie review
89842 2018-04-22 00:00:00Z Movies

Sweet Country – movie review

by Peter Calder

An Australian western with Sam Neill is a searing masterpiece.

Read more
The role that diet plays in causing gout is smaller than people think
89404 2018-04-22 00:00:00Z Health

The role that diet plays in causing gout is smalle…

by Nicky Pellegrino

It's often said that diet is the most important cause of gout, but for most people changing it won't lower uric acid levels enough to stop the pain.

Read more
15 and snapping the stars: The new generation of music media
88446 2018-04-21 00:00:00Z Music

15 and snapping the stars: The new generation of m…

by Sharon Stephenson

Wellington teenager McKenzie Jennings-Gruar is part of a new-generation media pack on the music festival circuit.

Read more
Moa Please! Give Anika Moa a prime-time spot on TV right now
89886 2018-04-21 00:00:00Z Television

Moa Please! Give Anika Moa a prime-time spot on TV…

by Diana Wichtel

It’s time the tornado of Seven Sharp and Anika Moa Unleashed was set free on prime time.

Read more