More Germans are swapping planes for trains because of climate worries

trains

(Daniel Abadia, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Katharine Rooney, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Domestic flights in Germany have dropped by 12% compared to last year.
  • Train companies in the country are seeing record passenger numbers.
  • Analysts say consumer awareness of the climate crisis is a significant factor.

More and more Germans are following the example of their northern neighbours and keeping their feet firmly on the ground.

Like the Swedish, who invented the term “flygskam” (flight shaming) to encourage sustainable travel, Germans are now flying less and using the train instead. A cut in long-distance train fares of 10% this year should also make land-based travel more alluring.

The number of domestic flights in Germany fell by 12% in November 2019 compared to the same month the previous year, with flights to other European cities falling by 1.9%.

 

Swedish airports saw an 11% drop in air traffic in 2019, with a significant increase in rail travel. Swedish rail operator SJ runs its trains on electricity from 100% renewable sources.

Short-haul flying in Germany has decoupled from longer trips
The fall of short-haul flights since the start of 2019
Image: ADV Airports Association, Fraport AG via Bloomberg

Changing consumer behaviour

While the German Airports Association attributes the dip in aviation to a range of factors, including rising oil prices and economic and trade insecurity, transport analysts believe that growing awareness of the climate crisis is playing a significant role.

“To me, this is evidence of heightened awareness of climate change turning to consumer action,” Stefan Goessling, professor of transport economics at Sweden’s Linnaeus University business school, told Bloomberg.

Alongside the decline in German domestic air travel, the country’s national rail firm Deutsche Bahn has reported record long-distance passenger numbers, with over 150 million using the train to travel for this purpose in 2019.

More Germans are travelling on the country's railroads
The rise in the number of passengers using trains in Germany since 2014
Image: Deutsche Bahn AG via Bloomberg

The company is aiming to cut its emissions in half by 2030 and run its trains using solely renewable electricity by 2038.

Putting the environment first

Support for the Green Party in Germany has been growing steadily, with recent polls putting it ahead of the ruling coalition.

These trends coincide with what has been called “the Greta effect”, with people around the world changing their behaviour in response to rallying cries from climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The Swedish teen travelled for 65 hours by train to attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2019, saving more than 200 kilogrammes of CO2.

The Swedish government is investing over $5 million in sleeper trains to destinations across Europe, to help its citizens travel more sustainably.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Germany has recently experienced its own climate-related challenges, including a summer drought in 2018 that saw thousands of farmers seeking government aid after their crops failed.

The future of flight

The aviation industry produces around 2% of all human-induced CO2 emissions and 12% of all CO2 emissions from the transport sector.

But, this is a fraction of the emissions from road transport, which is responsible for three-quarters of all emissions from the sector.

The airline industry has committed to reducing net carbon emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050; improving fleet fuel efficiency by 1.5% a year.

According to International Air Transport Association Director General Alexandre de Juniac, “Carbon is the enemy, not flying. Our goal is to keep the world flying sustainably.”

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Can self-charging batteries keep us connected for ever? A young scientist explains

EU attempts to make new deal with Turkey as relations deteriorate

5G and the growing need for national CTOs

UN Middle East Coordinator strongly condemns ‘arrests and violence’ by Hamas security forces during Gaza protests

Colombia: Santos thanks the EU for its support to the peace process

Digital IDs and the Digital Economy: the (still) missing link?

These artists created a huge open library – and their idea’s gone global

Bayer’s cross at night (Copyright: Bayer AG)

The EU clears Bayer-Monsanto merger amid wide competition and environmental concerns

EU budget agreement rejected by the European Parliament

IMF: Sorry Greece, Ireland, Portugal we were wrong!

Guinea-Bissau needs ‘genuinely free and fair elections’ to break cycle of instability

‘No safe way’ into battle-scarred Afghan city of Ghazni to deliver aid as traumatized children search for parents

Gender parity has a huge role to play in the fight to save our oceans

First EU-wide protection for whistle-blowers agreed

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

FROM THE FIELD: ‘A piece of me’ was taken

Engaging women and girls in science ‘vital’ for Sustainable Development Goals

A new approach to scaling-up renewable power in emerging markets

This billion-dollar campaign wants to protect 30% of the planet by 2030

3 ways to make the 2020s the decade we close the gender gap

Coronavirus: a cultural escape goat or the next Big Five

MEPs approve boost to workers’ rights in the gig economy

Commission offers discount on fines to banks for competition infringements

UK voters sent strong message to May and Corbyn for soft Brexit

Norway initiates WTO dispute complaint against US steel, aluminium duties

Stage set for successful 2020 Burundi elections, Foreign Minister tells General Assembly

Eurozone: Economic sentiment-business climate to collapse without support from exports

Service and sacrifice of African peacekeepers ‘at the forefront of our minds’: UN chief

A new catastrophic phase in the Syrian carnage

Algorithms are being used to convict criminals and decide jail time. We need to make sure they are fair

Humanitarian aid: EU announces additional €35 million for Africa’s Sahel region

The reskilling revolution can transform the future of work for women

A Sting Exclusive: Healthy oceans amidst COVID-19, written by the United Nations Under-Secretary General

It’s time to end our ‘separate but unequal’ approach to mental health

Citizens to be the cornerstone of the Conference on the Future of Europe

GSMA Outlines New Developments For MWC19 Shanghai

Commission caps charges on card and Internet payments and enforces competition

UN chief applauds Bangladesh for ‘opening borders’ to Rohingya refugees in need

EU Trade Ministers come together in a desperate attempt to save TTIP

A win-win strategy for private equity deals

The Cold War had an unintended side effect: It created a European wildlife paradise

Immigration crisis at its very worst: EU to outsource rescue business to North Africa?

Security Union: Commission receives mandate to start negotiating international rules for obtaining electronic evidence

Walk, cycle, dance and play – UN health agency recommends new action plan for good health

Impact Investment needs global standards and better measurement

What can we do about the crisis in trust in public institutions?

Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021 over coronavirus concerns

Mental Health x Meditation, in times of pandemic: cognitive and behavioral modifications

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

5 ways to integrate Syrian refugees into the workforce

Technology companies have power. They must assume responsibility

EU Youth Conference in Riga concludes with recommendations for ministers

Human rights are everyone’s business, amid relentless crises around world: UN’s Bachelet

Here are 4 of the most politically charged World Cup games ever played

5G in Russia: a local and global view on the way forward, in association with The European Sting

The world wide web is 30 years old. What better time to fight for its future?

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

The growing cyber-risk to our electricity grids – and what to do about it

Why lay people don’t expect anything good from G20

The world’s most vulnerable must be protected: WHO briefing

More Stings?

Advertising

Trackbacks

  1. […] yourself, but do it, tell everyone, and tell them to do it as well. The wider #flugscham campaign is having an effect. Domestic flights fell by 12% year-on-year last November in Germany, and by 14% in Sweden. Losses […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s