“Flygskam”: The shame of fly by ecological awareness


Two people waiting next to a window in the airport Tom Jobim in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). EFE / Marcelo Sayão

“Flygskam” or the decision not to fly on an ecological basis is a movement that is growing today. He was born in the nordic countries, but is spreading to other countries and are becoming more and more travellers decide not to travel by plane and use greener alternatives, such as the train.

Each 0,86 seconds off a plane in some part of the world and take this means of transport pollutes 20 times more than doing it by train, for example.

That is why, in a time when ecological awareness has gained weight, especially among young people, are increasingly travelers who forgo travel by plane. This current is called “flygskam” which is translated by “shame to fly”.

Tourists arriving at the station in Machu Picchu (Peru). EFE / Paolo Aguilar


The visible head of the youth movement “Friday the future”, the young Swedish Greta Thunberg, has opted for this measure by giving more visibility to the movement.

To the summit of the swiss city of Davos the World Economic Forum last January, the activist went on a train. Now crosses the Atlantic to New York in a sailing ship to attend the Summit on Climate Action on September 23.

This trend was born in the nordic countries in which there is a high ecological awareness. And, according to data from the World wide Fund for Nature (WWF, for its acronym in English), is responsible for the fall in air travel in Sweden.

In 2018, a 23% of the citizens of the country resigned to fly to reduce their ecological footprint.

“This movement is considered especially reprehensible displacement of length less than or around an hour between capital cities that are well covered by rail connections,” says Paul Diaz, a professor of Economics and business of Universidad Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in Barcelona, Spain, in a press release.

To the shame of flying, the train is governed as the perfect alternative, especially on those routes that are covered by high-speed lines.

Nearly one out of every five swedes opted for the train instead of the plane last year. This results in that the number of travelers in the airports of the country has fallen by 8%.

Although the concern for the environment is not limited to an age, they are young people who have made “flygskam” your flag.

The profile of these users, according to the UOC, is of young people, women and residents in metropolitan cities.

In social networks, especially on Twitter, you can read experiences of people that have changed the plane for the train or the ferry and talk of the benefits that these alternatives have been provided.

Between them, they highlight that, in train, for example, the journey, the discovery and the experience begins long before you arrive at the destination.

But for the very laudable and interesting that is the initiative, in the emerging debate around it, there are many who defend the impossibility of hugging her in certain moments.

It may not be an alternative for some travelers by economic issues, since in some countries the train can be more expensive than the plane.

On the other hand, when the time available is short, it is not a viable option, as in the case of workers who live on different continents and have to travel great distances to see their families two or three weeks of the year.

An aircraft performs the maneuver of landing next to the swimmers near the airport of Larnaca, Cyprus. EFE/ Katia Christodoulou


In a future in which the planet is uninhabitable, if the “flygskam” is a threat to the aviation sector, or tourism is a minor issue, but for the experts, neither can we ignore the possible impact on the work of those who dedicate themselves to it.

“The environmental awareness among the tourists is growing and the sector has perceived these signs and every time we develop more products with ecological awareness to these audiences,” says Diaz.

So maybe, the solution does not have to do with the extinction of the industry, but with its transformation.

The members of the Board of Tourism of Spain, for example, point to the error of failing to take account of this movement.

Diaz says that the “flygskam” it would be more travel if the states are involving in the matter.

“If the authorities undertake measures of restriction on flights of short-haul and to build and subsidize more use of the train and other transportation that are less polluting, then yes, the consequences could be major,” recalls Diaz in the writing. By Natalia Otero.

Story/Image: EFE

Travellers to cross by the exit of international arrivals at the New airport Pudahuel, Santiago (Chile). EFE / Mario Ruiz

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