I am an environmental lawyer and teacher, deeply saddened by the thought that my 2 small children will grow up in a world without coral reefs or polar bears, and, unless drastic action is taken, without hope for their own children.
Stopping non-essential air travel is the easiest and yet most powerful practical and moral response. Such flying is by definition not essential, and one long-haul international flight produces several tonnes of carbon – often more than total household emissions over a year.
Further than that, an immediate halt to non-essential air travel on an international basis is now a minimum requirement for managing dangerous levels of carbon in the atmosphere.
The logic of this position is:
- The current level of 387 ppm Co2 in the atmosphere is a dangerous level (300 to 350 ppm is considered safe);
- That level will remain for hundreds of years ie we cannot go back;
- The current risk of runaway climate change is unacceptably high. At levels a few ppm above the current levels, the risk of runaway climate change rises significantly;
- Every tonne of CO2 added to the atmosphere (currently at around 800 tonnes per second) also remains there for hundreds of years. Every added tonne further increases the risk of runaway climate change.
- Immediate and drastic reductions in CO2 emissions are required.
- Air travel is extremely intensive in its CO2 emissions, with tonnes of CO2 being emitted per person per single long haul flight.
- Non-essential air travel, by which I mean all personal air travel for recreation/holidays and all business air travel that can reasonably (having in mind the current crisis) be replaced by video conferencing or equivalent, both within and between countries, should immediately cease.
- The considerable economic harm that will occur to the airline industry is outweighed by the immediate loss to my children and grandchildren of ecosystems that have existed for thousands of years, and the threat to their wellbeing and their very lives if runaway climate change occurs.
13 September 2009