Flight-Shaming Catching On In Europe

There are a number of things that climate activists don’t want the rest of us to do, like eating meat and flying on airplanes. They seem to have decided that discouraging flying is a better bet than compulsory vegetarianism, so several European countries are moving in that direction.

In Sweden, the government “is considering making it mandatory for travel companies to declare the climate impact of their long-haul trips.”

The companies should inform customers of the climate impact of long-haul trips when advertising or selling tickets, the government said on Friday.

It would be interesting to see how they would do this, since no one has any idea what the “climate impact,” if any, of an airplane flight is.

A bill has yet to be proposed but the government commissioned a report on how companies could be mandated to declare the climate impact of long-haul trips by “bus, train, plane or ferry”.

I suppose if you walk you will breathe harder and exhale more CO2. They could calculate that, too. You’d best stay at home.

The idea is that consumers will have more information about the “climate impact” of their travel, but activists aren’t counting on voluntary action:

“Informed consumers are incredibly important and I think many would be awestruck about how much of a climate impact, particularly flights, have,” [Parul Sharma, director of Greenpeace Sweden] told AFP.

“But informing consumers can’t be made to shift the responsibility away from the government, which needs to supplement this with efforts to reduce flying,” she added.

Air travel in Sweden is down around 4 percent compared with last year. Is it possible that this could be due to “climate impact” concerns? That is hard to believe.

Similar agitation is going on in the U.K., as the London Times reports:

Air miles schemes must be banned because they encourage excessive flying, according to a report commissioned by the government’s climate change advisers.

“Air miles schemes” are frequent flyer programs. Banning them would make business travelers very unhappy. The report also advocates the proposed Swedish approach:

All advertisements for flights should include information about their emissions expressed in a simple way to make people think about the impact on the climate of their trips, the report says.

But that isn’t autocratic enough for the U.K. government’s “climate change advisers.”

It also recommends an “escalating frequent flyer levy” on distance flown to target the 15 per cent of the population who take 70 per cent of flights.

So if you fly more, you pay more taxes.

This is all madness, of course. If everyone in the world stopped flying tomorrow, it would have zero effect on the weather. Moreover, virtually no climate activists advocate nuclear power, which is the one practical way of cutting down on CO2 emissions. Nor do they have a plan to deal with, or any apparent concern about, the principal and growing sources of CO2 emissions in Asia.

What we are seeing is really a set of religious rituals. Some amorphous evil is in prospect, and many people fervently want to believe that by making small sacrifices–in olden times, killing an animal and burning its entrails, today, cutting down on air travel or not eating meat–the evil can be averted. This has nothing to do with reality, let alone science. But it satisfies an atavistic human need.

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