‘Flight shame’ has Swedes rethinking air travel
Saddled with long dark winters at home, Swedes have for decades been frequent flyers seeking out sunnier climes, but a growing number are changing their ways because of air travel’s impact on the climate.
“Flygskam”, or flight shame, has become a buzz word referring to feeling guilt over the environmental effects of flying, contributing to a trend that has more and more Swedes, mainly young, opting to travel by train to ease their conscience.
Spearheading the movement for trains-over-planes is Sweden’s own Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate school striker who refuses to fly, travelling by rail to the World Economic Forum in Davos and the climate summit in Katowice, Poland.
“I’m certainly affected by my surroundings and (flight shame) has affected how I view flying,” Viktoria Hellstrom, a 27-year-old political science student in Stockholm, said. Last summer, she took the train to Italy, even though the friends she was meeting there went by plane, as that would have been her second flight within a few weeks.
The Scandinavian country’s location far north -- it is 4,000 km from the northernmost town of Kiruna to France’s Cote d’Azur -- as well as its robust standard of living, the popularity of charter trips and the rise of low-cost airlines have all contributed to making Swedes big flyers. Emissions from Swedes’ international air travel have soared 61 percent since 1990, their study said.
Fausta Gabola, a French-Italian student in Paris, is no longer sure that she should take up an offer to study in Australia on a scholarship.
“It’s my dream to go there,” she said. “I applied without thinking too much about it and now I have a dilemma. I would feel like a hypocrite if