Green travel and climate change
Travel without trashing the planet is hard to square with flying. Emissions from planes account for more than three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions – a figure rising every year and in some countries counteracting progress being made in cutting greenhouse emissions in other areas. Moreover, the high-altitude emissions of planes are three times more damaging to the atmosphere than equivalent emissions on the earth's surface.
Can we justify travelling?
At greentravelguides.tv we believe travel brings global benefits. People in developing countries need tourism to put food on their families' tables. And tourism holds the key to protecting vast swathes of rainforest and other globally sensitive habitats. Local communities need an incentive to keep the trees – cut them down and their income has gone forever.
However, we recognise the drastic consequences of climate change may destroy the fragile habitats that we cherish and that are essential to maintaining a healthy, global eco-system.
Alternatives to air travel
There's never any excuse for taking short haul flights when there are alternatives:
- Many countries have high-speed rail links that easily compete for convenience and cost against short haul flights.
- North American travellers have fewer options for cross-country travel, though driving (with at least one other passenger) will usually be more carbon-efficient than flying – unless you set off on your coast-to-coast trip in a gas-guzzling Hummer.
- City centre stations and minimal check-in times make for a good start and finish to any trip and an integral and enjoyable part of the whole trip. See our Making Tracks section for a wealth of suggestions about international train journeys.
You can do more to lighten your carbon footprint on arrival. Hire a bike or explore on foot. And try to stay in environmentally-friendly accommodation. See our Green Luxury for tips.
Ask your tour operator about excursions to sustainable projects and spend your money where it counts – in local shops, craft cooperatives and restaurants.
- What's your environmental policy?
- Do you employ local people in holiday destinations?
- Do you support any charity projects that benefit their local communities?
- And what about wildlife conservation projects?
- Is your business eco certified?
- Have you won any eco-awards?
- What efforts are you making to reduce water consumption, conserve energy and recycle waste?
- Are your suppliers also doing their bit to save the planet?
- How do you encourage your customers to respect conservation and local culture – and go easy on resources when they're abroad?
- How do you make sure all the above is happening?