“The airline industry is running out of runway”

    Flugzeug über Flughafen
    Von Elisabeth Ribbans

    Awaiting take-off from a Spanish airport earlier this summer, I heard a couple across the aisleGangaisle arguing with the cabin manager because, as far as I could to earwig (UK, ifml.)lauschen; hier: (mit)hörenearwig, they had not been able to sit in the extra-legroom seats for which they had paid. “We are Silver Club members,” they protested, as anyone might do when seeking to to underscore sth.etw. betonenunderscore customer loyalty. And then they repeated this fact at volumelautstarkat volume several times.

    apparentlyanscheinendApparently, it was an ordinary conversation, but with climate change looking ever more urgent and catastrophic, I wondered how long it would be before your (very) frequent-flier status was something you’d want to keep quiet rather than announce publicly.

    Just days after this thought had to occur to sb.hier: jmdm. in den Sinn kommenoccurred to me, I noticed the term “flight shame” and its accusatory cousin “flight-shaming” popping up in numerous news articles and blog posts. Flight shame is the guilt you feel when you hop on a plane from, say, London to New York and know that you’re responsible for adding a ton of CO2 to the atmosphere. I’m guessing another ton of self-justification can to ease sth.etw. lindernease the symptoms — because it has helped in my case — but the only real hope of a cure is abstentionEnthaltung, Enthaltsamkeitabstention.

    Have you said no to business flights for environmental reasons, for example, or said yes just because it was cheaper than going by road or rail?

    According to European Commission figures, global aviationLuftfahrtaviation emissions are to forecast sth.etw. prognostizierenforecast to be 70 per cent higher in 2020 than they were in 2005, while passenger numbers are expected to double over the next 20 years. The airline industry, which ... accounts for...auf ... entfällt ...accounts for more than two per cent of global greenhouse gasTreibhausgasgreenhouse gases, is engaged in various initiatives to reduce its impact, ranging from carbon offsettingEmissionshandelcarbon offsetting to alternative jet fuelTreibstofffuels. The problem is that they are to run out of runwayAnspielung auf „run out of road” = in einer schwierigen Lage stecken (runway: Start-/Landebahn)running out of runway; UN scientists have warned that we could be facing disaster unless there is “rapid and far-reaching” action on climate change by 2030.

    Reducing demand has to be part of the plan. As I consider the effect on my work and leisureFreizeitleisure of “to offset sth.etw. ausgleichen, kompensierenoffsetting” the four return flights I will have taken this year by taking none until 2023, I would love to hear from readers about how they feel about flying in a warming world. Have you said no to business flights for environmental reasons, for example, or said yes just because it was cheaper than going by road or rail? Are videoconferencing and live streaming used as widely as they could be? Or are you perhaps confident that technology will deliver clean aviation before it’s too late?

    If you let me know your thoughts, I’ll return to the subject in a later column. Meanwhile, I’m off to find a way to get from Birmingham to Geneva without visiting an airport — or to break the bankhier: den (eigenen) Finanzrahmen sprengenbreaking the bank!


    Elizabeth Ribbans

    Elisabeth Ribbans is a British journalist and editorial consultant. She is also a former managing editor of The Guardian in London. Contact: ej.ribbans@gmail.com 

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