Having worked in travel all my working life, I have seen first-hand the benefits that traveling brings in terms of global understanding and tolerance. However, I have also become one of a growing number of “Green Activists” looking at how we can save the planet by slowing and eventually stopping Global Warming. In this role, I regularly hear fellow activists demanding that people fly less.
However, travel only represents 12% of an individual’s carbon emission and there are many other sources of Co2 emissions that if dealt with would have a much bigger impact.
The travel sector does need to openly admit it will not be carbon neutral by 2030 or any time soon and address what it does to compensate for this. If it doesn’t “flying” could quickly become the equivalent of smoking and be seen by younger generations as a polluting/anti-social behavior.
A simple solution might be “compulsory carbon offsetting” for every flight taken, with the funds generated used to drive carbon removal programs around the world.
Global warming can be reduced, by removing carbon from the atmosphere anywhere in the world, which is why I have invested/donated substantial funds to help develop modular hemp farming containers. These can be dropped into Africa to create hemp farms which are 4 times more effective per acre at extracting Co2 compared to planting trees and can be powered by generators that burn the oil created from crushing hemp so that it can create a material this is used for making clothing or building. These generators also power lighting and water irrigation, which allows food crops to be grown, making it a win for the local and global communities at the same time.
The bottom line is that all extraction schemes need funding, and the best route is via “taxation” on polluting activities.
However, can we trust the UK Government not just to pocket any “carbon offsetting” tax in the same way it pockets APD tax, with no explanation on how it is spent or why it is even charged, apart from that it’s an easy stealth tax.
The UK Travel Industry needs to admit it’s a polluter and pay its taxes, whilst ensuring they are well spent on reducing carbon emissions. If this cannot be done via our government, then the major airlines need to join forces and operate a compulsory carbon offsetting program themselves.
Travel also needs to widen the debate and focus customers’ minds on the bigger Co2 issues, which if dealt with would allow them to continue to travel with a clear conscience.
Unplugging, the petrol pump and buying an EV would cut 29% of an individual’s Co2 emissions, whilst reducing car running costs by 66%. Switching household heating from gas to electric or ground source heating, would rapidly eat into the 41% of emissions created by running our houses, but is less likely as electric heating is currently 4 times more expensive than gas.
However, what’s the point of moving the UK population to clean EV cars and electric heating, if they are powered by expensive and “dirty” electricity?
The UK electricity board is one of the country’s biggest polluters, with 50% of electricity being generated by burning gas or other fossil fuels. The quickest solution to stopping this is a massive investment in nuclear power, but the Government is still dithering about funding the £500m required to start the process of deploying 20-30 Rolls-Royce “Small Modular Reactors” (SMRs). These will boost nuclear power back to the 25% share of production it used to be in the 1990s and give more time to develop other clean power projects such as solar and wind.
Action is needed now but if we think we have issues with travel being ignored by the government, try becoming part of the nuclear electricity sector!
Travel will always be a force for good, but it needs to clean up its image via offsetting in the short term and less polluting fuels or power sources such as hydrogen in the longer term.
In my opinion, we do not need to stop flying to save the planet, but we do need to compensate for the miles we fly to enjoy our holidays and drive change elsewhere.
Let’s act now to protect the industry we love.