Sweden Is Shaming People Into Not Travelling By Plane

‘Flight shame’ or ‘flygskam’ is a social movement aimed at boycotting air travel to reduce carbon emissions, and it's having quite the effect on Sweden's airports.

The Scandinavian nation saw a four per cent decrease in the number of people flying via its airports in 2019, according to the BBC.

This includes a nine per cent decrease in domestic flight travel across the country's 10 airports, airport operator Swedavia claimed.

State-owned Swedavia claimed that this is the second year in a row where air passenger traffic has declined across the nation.

There were more than 40 million passengers that travelled through Sweden’s airports in 2019, compared to 42 million passengers in 2018.

A plane takes off as the sun sets in Stockholm airport in Sweden. Image: Getty

The drop comes as the Swedish born movement 'flight shaming' or ‘flygskam’ continues to take off.

‘Flygskam’ originated in 2017 after musician Staffan Lindberg pledged to give up flying, citing his concerns for climate change as the reason.

Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg. Image: Getty

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg led by example last September when she crossed the Atlantic in a zero-emissions yacht to attended the UN climate summit in New York.

When she returned home the teen took the train through Europe to Sweden.

Thunberg has refused to fly since then.

Swedavia spokesmen Robert Pletzin attributed the decline in domestic air travel to many factors including the Swedish aviation tax, softening economic worries, a weak Swedish crown and a growing climate debate.

Swedavia has committed to making all its airports carbon emission-free by the end of this year.

Flygskam has resulted in the promotion of train travel in parts of Europe.

At the start of this year, Germany announced its first cut in rail prices in 17 years. The state-owned Deutsche Bahn announced a 10 per cent cut on trips over 50km.



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Austria’s new pro-environmental coalition government has promised to expand its rail network and increase its aviation tax. These measures are part of their promise to be carbon-neutral by 2040.

The small nation of Luxembourg announced that by European summer this year all public transport will be free, in a measure to reduce traffic congestion.

17-year-old Swedish climate change activist, Greta Thunberg refuses to fly. Image: Getty

Despite flight-shaming as a movement gaining prominence in Sweden and Germany, global flight activity is rapidly increasing.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global air passenger numbers are projected to double by 2037, to a total of 8.2 billion.

While air travellers in Europe and the U.S. are expected to decline by 2037, the IATA has identified the Asia Pacific region as the fastest-growing air travel market - which is expected to make up almost half of the 8.2 billion annual air passengers in 2037.



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Companies such as BNP Paribas and Citigroup have voiced concerns for the future growth of the aviation industry in Europe - the latter acknowledging that consumer awareness of climate change has had a perceptible effect in Sweden that could affect the entire industry.

Flygskam and other anti-flying sentiments has put the aviation industry on the defence, while the industry only makes up two per cent of global carbon emissions the IATA has predicted this figure to rise by 2037.

Last year the IATA announced plans to launch a campaign aimed at fixing the industry’s negative image and to bolster its efforts to curb carbon emissions.