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.”

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

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

COP22 addresses a strong global pledge to effectively implement the Paris Agreement

Financial support for workers affected by no-deal Brexit

UN’s Bachelet addresses progress and setbacks in human rights worldwide

The European Union continues to lead the global fight against climate change

Shaping the future of democracy in Armenia

Why the agtech boom isn’t your typical tech disruption

What’s really driving corporate climate action?

These innovations could keep us cool without warming the planet

In West Africa, UN Security Council visits Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau

UNICEF reports uneven progress in 30 years of child rights treaty

Friday’s Daily Brief: hunger in North Korea, human rights in Iran, updates on DR Congo and Benin

Multilateralism’s ‘proven record of service’ is focus of first-ever International Day

China hopes EU Commissioner De Gucht drops super anti-dumping tariff on solar panels

Restoring prospect of peace in Middle East is ‘our shared responsibility’ UN envoy tells Security Council

Industrial price dive may lead to point of no return

Alcoholic drinks: Commission tables update of rules governing alcohol excise duties

Anti-vaccination: a private choice leading to collective outcomes

UN appeals for international support as flood waters rise in wake of second Mozambique cyclone

UN condemns deadly attack against G5 Sahel force headquarters in Mali

UN chief calls for ‘immediate end’ to escalation of fighting in southwestern Syria, as thousands are displaced

This app uses augmented reality to rewrite ‘herstory’

Cocaine and opium production worldwide hit ‘absolute record highs’ – major threat to public health says UN study

Greece: The new government of Alexis Tsipras shows its colors

The world’s landmine stockpiles in numbers

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate Change needs to be demystified”, Anneli Jättenmäki Vice President of European Parliament underscores from Brussels

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

“Our house is on fire.” 16 year-old Greta Thunberg wants action

How cocoa farming can help stop deforestation

So, what is your favourite Sustainable Development Goal?

AI-driven companies need to be more diverse. Here’s why

Cameron readies to support ‘yes’ for Britain in the EU

MEPs boost support for EU research and Erasmus

EU adopts retaliative measures in response to US steel and aluminum tariffs

In Finland, speeding tickets are linked to your income

‘Negative developments’ undermining two-State solution in Middle East

EU Court of Justice invalidates Safe Harbour and the game for thousands US businesses suddenly changes

EU and UK soon to be in a post-Brexit rush over free trade agreement with Australia

Conflict diamonds and climate change: Cooperate, don’t compete over natural resources urges Guterres

‘Transformational benefits’ of ending outdoor defecation: Why toilets matter

Protecting whistle-blowers: new EU-wide rules approved

Trump’s Russophiles under investigation, Europe remains ‘en garde’

Mental health: what can be done to diminish increasing suicide rates?

4 ways 3D printing can revolutionize manufacturing

Water supply a human right but Greeks to lose their functioning utilities

Gender equality: an issue much talked about but less acted upon

10 tonnes of trash was taken off Everest – and repurposed

“None of our member states has the dimension to compete with China and the US, not even Germany!”, Head of EUREKA Pedro Nunes on another Sting Exclusive

CDU-SPD agree the terms for EU’s Banking Union

This is how people in Europe are helping lead the energy charge

Terrorist content online should be removed within one hour, says EP

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change and youth inaction: oblivion or nonchalance?”, AIESEC wonders from Brussels

In Washington D.C., Guterres signs pact with World Bank, meets US President Trump

Eurozone’s credibility rock solid

Medical ethics in the age of the social media influencers

Fairness in the Food Supply Chain: Commission welcomes Member States’ support for greater price transparency

This is what the world’s waste does to people in poorer countries

Time to be welcome: Youth work and integration of young refugees

Why the ECB had to clarify it caters for the entire Eurozone not just Germany?

A seafood fraud investigation DNA tested fish sold in the US. Here’s what they found

Revolutionary technologies will drive African prosperity – this is why

More Stings?

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