How to explore the world without harming it: Guardian climate pledge 2019

(The Guardian, 19 Oct 2019) Guardian travel editor Andy Pietrasik explains how a flexitarian approach can enable us to enjoy exploring the planet without increasing our carbon footprint.

We recently published a guide to Helsinki in which we gave details of how to get there and back without flying. In the comments below the article, a reader wrote: “I think you have to concede that it’s a little disingenuous to pretend that people will be going to Helsinki by train and boat … very few will be willing to allocate six days of the holiday just for the journey. It’s simply not a practical suggestion.”

The rise of low-cost flights over the past 20 or so years means we have become so accustomed to flying everywhere for our holidays and short breaks that the idea of taking so long over a journey has become unthinkable. We expect to maximise our time in a location and minimise our time in transit. But maybe that has to change.

Another reader put this into context: “In the 70s it was customary to travel around Europe by train (or bus, or hitchhiking). I’ve travelled between Finland and the UK many times by train, and it is quite a pleasant experience.”

Travel can have a magical transformation on individuals and communities. We hope through our pages to encourage people to explore the world, to discover, first-hand, locations they may only have read about in history books or novels; to open themselves up to new experiences and tastes; to meet people with different ideas and perspectives; to try out alternative lifestyles; to immerse themselves in beautiful landscapes; to have fun. Our writers tap into the joy of new experiences, whether it’s the exhilaration of swimming through a city, as our writer did in Basel, or the thrill of tackling Ireland’s Big Five adventures. And we know that our readers are adventurous and well-travelled because every week we feature their tips from around the world.

But we also recognise the need to help tackle the climate emergency by reducing the number of flights we all take. Environment journalist, John Vidal explored the dilemma that “people like me, cursed with loving travel” now face, when he reported on the Swedish concept of “flygskam”, or fly shame. And he referred to people applying the idea of the “flexitarian” diet – where they cut back on their meat consumption dramatically but not completely – to flying.

External link

The Guardian, 19 Oct 2019: How to explore the world without harming it: Guardian climate pledge 2019