Last month we broke a four-year pledge not to fly, and took a 90-minute plane across Turkey. The two-night train sleepers were full and we had a stomach bug, so couldn’t go by toiletless bus. And we ‘had to’ head home.
In retrospect I think we should have waited a week for the next sleeper compartment, for when I returned home and filled in my weekly direct fossil fuel emissions on Carbon Account, I found that our carbon budget, carefully tended and pruned, was well and truly busted. We’d managed to get our household emissions really low, through a careful regime of draughtproofing, turning off appliances and lights, using big machines when the sun shone to use electricity generated by the sun, and wearing jumpers and using our woodburning stove as our sole heat source for most of the winter.
That one flight now sits, a massive orange spike towering over the steady thin line of frugality. Damn! 685 miles of flying means 70% of this year’s direct emissions to date, or nearly half a ton of CO2 each. And no matter how much we try to remain frugal, that spike will haunt us for the rest of the year.
I’m not one for guilt, generally, nor smugness. I just take this as a sobering reminder: there’s absolutely no point in making small changes like recycling and walking to the shops, if we don’t reduce our flying. In terms of making a difference to our carbon footprint, that’s the Big One.
So, I’ll just renew my Gold flight pledge here and encourage others to do so – there’s a Silver Pledge for those starting out on the learning curve.