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Flight-shaming movement takes off – but not with events industry

Of late, I have heard about the so-called flight-shaming movement, where environmentally conscious travellers are choosing trains or other forms of transport rather than planes.

Laudable though this is, in the events industry where people are often flying from continent to continent, this doesn’t seem feasible.

But the big cheeses in the industry are clearly taking this eco-policy seriously. So much so that Alexandre de Juniac, head of global lobby International Air Transport Association (IATA) called the environmental movement the biggest threat to the airline industry in Europe.

“If you believe or think that the environmental concern is a world concern touching everyone on the planet… there’s no reason to believe that other young people won’t react,” he told journalists at a press conference.

However, the movement which many believe started in Sweden, has not reached the United States yet, which is basking in the glow of a recent booming flight demand.

The IATA chief said that the lack of a train alternative in the US was a major obstacle to the flight-shaming movement – not to mention the vast distances.

However, de Juniac went on to predict that the movement will spread in the United States and then move on to countries in Asia like Korea and Japan.

In Europe, there is definitely a sea change towards sustainability. France announced a tax on airlines flying from its airports to help support the environment. This has caused concern for Air France, who claim it will add more than 60 million euros per annum in extra costs.

Commercial flying accounts for around 2.5 per cent of global carbon emissions. Although this might seem a paltry figure, we definitely need to do our bit to cut carbon emissions.

While there is a conflict of interest in the events and meetings world, where face-to-face meetings are essential, de Juniac was keen for the industry to be “doing the right things.”

Which brings me to Greta Thunberg, that pioneering eco-warrior, crossing the Atlantic in a yacht to avoid travelling by air to take part in two major climate summits. It took her two weeks. In the office, we all watched her progress with fascination as she slowly made her way across a choppy ocean. After what seemed like ages, we all looked at the map and exclaimed: “But she’s only reached France!”

And yes, I have to admit to flight-shaming by climate activists who are actually getting off their backsides and doing something. There is a groundswell of excitement building up. Thousands of young protestors greeted Thunberg when she finally arrived in New York.

I greatly admire Thunberg, but I have to confess that if a flight is delayed by a few hours, I am spitting nails. Perhaps I need to work on my tolerance levels.

Could I really take two weeks to travel to a conference centre or venue by boat or train – what would your boss say? I’d be interested to know.