torsdag 14 mars 2019

FLIGHT FREE 2020 NOW IN BELGIUM

Flight Free 2020 is spreading to more countries! This is Nour who recently started the campaign in Belgium. This is her story:

Since I was a child, I have always traveled. In the past few years, I took it to a whole other level, by making it my lifestyle, living on the road, not really having a set home. I was flying a lot.

I knew that flying wasn’t that great, but I thought that the rest of my lifestyle (veganism, low waste, sustainable fashion, etc) was compensating for it. That was until I was faced with the truth in October 2018. The numbers were brought to my attention, I calculated my carbon emissions, from flying, of the past 2 years, and I couldn’t unlearn what I had just come across. Solely from my flying, I was one of the biggest polluters on the planet. There was no way I could justify that. I wasn’t flying because I NEEDED to, I was flying because I WANTED to. It was time for a change. I did my research, and realised that barely anyone knows about how bad flying truly is. I then came across the Flight Free campaign in Sweden and absolutely loved the idea, wishing it would be brought to other countries. So, when I learned that the campaign was trying to expand to other countries, it was a no brainer: I had to bring it to the country I live in, Belgium.

This is how it all started, how I got here, and why I’m doing what I do. The world needs to be aware of the truth, and people need to be given information in order to make choices.

lördag 23 februari 2019

INTERVIEW WITH MARIT BERGMAN

Artist Marit Bergman has already had a flight-free year and is now ready to take on another one. She believes we are about to achieve the critical mass needed to create new norms and collectively change society. "Instead of just settling with the anxiety, I somehow try to visualize the headlines in four years. When the first headlines come saying that ' we have managed to reverse it around'. "
Marit Bergman says that she, as so many others, has been aware that aviation involves very high emissions. She has therefore avoided one or two leisure trips by air, but it wasn't until she did a calculation of her carbon footprint that she really realized how much of a difference it makes to refrain from flying.
"I made a climate footprint calculation online and I scored pretty good. I have no car, I don’t eat meat, I don’t buy that many new things, live in an apartment in an environmentally friendly and so on. If I do not fly, I’m in the clear, but if I add a flight then I’m screwed.”
The last year, Marit has been pregnant and had a little baby. The only time she had to think about whether to choose a flight or train was when she was going to Piteå (in the far north of Sweden) to hold a lecture. She decided on the train.
"It was of course a bit more complicated, but it worked. Then I had already made it through a air-free year. I thought of posting it on social media just to celebrate my first air-free year as an adult. But then I started thinking whether I dare to promise not to fly next year as well. I decided 'Yes, of course I can, it's only one year'. But then it might turn into one more year and another year and another year."
Another event that affected Marit in her decision was during this summer when she sat on a bus on her way to Gothenburg with her newborn baby in her arms. Through the window she saw that it was a nice, foggy light outside.
"' Oh, how lovely it is ', I thought. Then I started to feel the smell of a bushfire. It was a collision between sitting with this warm little baby in one’s arms, which has been given a life for her to have a future, and at the same time feel the immediate effect of what we are doing. It was a revelation for me.”
Marit thinks that Greta Thunberg’s expresses herself so well when she says” You say you love your children, but you are doing your best to destroy their future”.
” But it is a case of getting to that understanding between one’s own actions and the bigger picture, and it's difficult when you’re only one person, I think. It’s so easy to think that it doesn’t matter what I do. But when it comes to flying the reduction that one person can achieve becomes actually quite huge. It also becomes a fairly easy lifestyle change to make. Just ignore booking the trip.”
Have you thought about the climate for a long time?
"I read Mark Lynas book (Six Degrees: Our future in a warmer world) when it came out (2008), and it was the beginning of my personal ‘climate anxiety’ in any way. Another book that Influenced me a lot is a book on tourism (Welcome to Paradise: Report on the tourist industry) by Jenny Dielemans. It was also a book which really made me think. It is not until now the realization has really sunk in, but it was those books which made me avoid flying by routine. "
Marit tells us that she previously tried not to think about the climate because it is too heavy to take in. That some part of her wished the climate deniers turned out to be right. Now she has stopped turning a blind eye, but instead tries to visualize a positive future.
"Instead of just settling with the anxiety, I somehow try to visualize the headlines in four years. When the first headlines come saying that ' we have managed to reverse it around'. " It's something in one self that previous thought it is impossible - financial systems are based on consumption, which is the whole cause of this not working. But somehow, it feels like we are about to achieve the critical mass necessary for society to be able to collectively turn around and create a new norm and make new decisions which will feel obvious.”
Marit says that norms have changed before, albeit not as quickly as needed now perhaps. However, given that we are now able to reach out quickly through internet, she still feels hopeful. Marit believes that if enough people take this kind of decision and put them out publicly, politicians will also act.
”If a movement is created which in plain terms says ’You won’t be able to remain in power after next election if you don’t shape up in this issue’, it’s clear that they will change their decisions accordingly.”
How will it affect you to opt out of flying for a year?
” I have not flown domestically for many years, except for when I have had jobs far up in the north of Sweden. When I travelled to Piteå and beyond I have flown. But this year when I went there, I took the night train and that was fine. I have, at some time in a weak moment, promised my older child that we would go on holiday to a sunnier place at some point, so that is going to be a thing we're going to have to talk about. But then I think he will be very satisfied with a trip to Öland (an island in the swedish east coast).”
Marit tells us she has been thinking a lot about flying and has gained a different perspective on travelling. She thinks that any joy she would get out of a trip by flying would be eaten up by the anxiety surrounding it.
"My new dream has become, that when the children are grown and moved out, to make a trip around the world by train and possibly a boat or two. I heard a report that they are developing new technology for boats where you will be able to use wind power in some way. So, my idea of being able to travel far and to a place I have not been before does not have to be completely defunct, it's just that I must do it in some other way. "
How do you feel about having made the decision to take a flight-free year?
"It feels great! It feels very positive. I still lie awake at night and wonder how it will go with the climate, but it feels like I’m doing something. Because flying releases such high emissions,  it gives a clear effect not to.
This powerlessness I have felt is about to disappear a little. I also feel that although I may not be the world's greatest influencer, I still have a crowd of people who follow what I do, and those who follow me are often adult people whose decisions are important. ”
Marit says that even those who do not have a lot of followers on Instagram or a large audience have great possibility to influence others.
"A friend of mine, a young girl who is 18 years old who recently posted that she would not ever fly more in her life if no technical solutions come. She plants seeds in people around her. After all, her family wants the best for her future and of course they start to think too. ”
How will you influence more people to take a flight-free 2019?
” I’m working on a publication which I will publish. I’m also involved in a group called Music for Future. There are currently discussions about flying, and more and more people say that "you should be able to manage one year". If you think that you will never fly again, many people probably start to panic a bit. But if you think one year at a time I think it will be easier. "


Maja Rosén
We Stay on The Ground
Translated by Sara Littecke

INTERVIEW WITH CARL HAMNESJÖ

Carl Hamnesjö is about to leave for South America on a Human Rights research trip – and he will go there without flying. Speaking of rights, Carl believes that we do not have a right to fly, but rather an obligation not to do so. And it is certainly possible to travel without using aeroplanes: in 2017 Carl journeyed around the world without flying, and this summer he attended the World Cup in Russia by train
Carl has been engaged in the climate crisis for quite some time. While studying climate history and landscape development at University, he began to realise how seriously we humans affect the climate, and that made him reflect on his own lifestyle. After discovering the Climate Account on the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute website he calculated his own carbon footprint.
“I played around with it a few times and discovered that I had a lot to do in order to become sustainable. For me, flying was my largest source of emissions and I realised that even in five short years, flights add up to a huge amount. ”
Carl started thinking about how he could travel without flying. Since then he has travelled the world without flying and this summer he went to the World Cup in Russia by bus and train.
“It was incredibly fun! Both me and my friends felt that the train experiences were something special. You hung out with others and spent a lot of time together. It is more of an adventure to go by train, and it is much more comfortable: you can move, you have a bed, and as there were three of us we almost always had our own compartment.”
He thinks that you generally experience more by travelling by train, because you get to see so much more, you meet more people and therefore get a different feel for the country.
“By plane you come directly to a big city but by train you first see how the landscape looks, the countryside with small houses, the suburbs and then the city. I feel that I have experienced more of the country I am visiting than if I was only staying in the city for a week."
He says that even though you can travel to most places in ways other than by air, there are some places that he will never visit. But that’s not a bad thing: there are still plenty of wonderful places to go, and it’s nice to not be overwhelmed by so much choice. Thailand is not the only place with beautiful beaches. Carl, who has a Master's degree in Human Rights, believes that it is not our right to travel everywhere, but instead we have an obligation not to destroy places by flying there.
Sometimes people wonder if he is afraid of flying. Carl usually answers that he is not afraid to fly, he is afraid of what might happen to the climate. This often leads to good conversations about what you can do instead.
How Carl got involved with Flight Free 2019
Carl tells us that when he saw our poster at a climate event he was immediately attracted to the idea of doing something together, with as many people as possible. He had previously wondered if it were possible to do something in the style of a Paris agreement at the individual level because he believes it is important to see that other people are fighting as well.
“Otherwise, all you do is focus on the fact that the people around you aren’t taking action. It feels like an injustice. But the real injustice is between you and the people who are already being affected by climate change, such as those in developing countries, or between you and nature. That’s the real injustice,” says Carl.

How many are you going to try to recruit for the campaign?
"I think that it’s important to talk to people and tell them about this. If I try hard, I should be able to reach at least ten,” says Carl.


Maja Rosén
We Stay on the Ground

Translated by Ingrid Hesser and Anna Hughes

INTERVIEW WITH STEFAN SUNDSTRÖM

Musician Stefan Sundström dislikes both consumption and indebtedness and loves to grow tomatoes. He himself has completely stopped flying and promises to recruit politician Gustav Fridolin to Flight Free 2019.
Stefan Sundström's interest in gardening first made him understand the seriousness of climate change. He says that the more he learns about the life of the plants, the more he realises how much food production - the basis of our existence - is threatened by climate change.
“The more I learn about soil and so on, the more I care about the climate. That's the big threat. There are a lot of other things that we have to do something about, but if we do nothing about the climate, then none of the other stuff matters.”
Stronger experiences without flying
Stefan declared that he would no longer fly in a debate article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter back in 2018, along with several others. Despite always having felt uncomfortable about flying he still used to fly a lot, especially when the children were small.
“We flew to Crete, and we also did some longer trips, to Senegal, Cuba and India. It was pretty cool, but I am happy to give it up, considering the climate situation. With such terrible predictions about the future of the planet, it is the obvious choice for me not to fly. "
It is three years since Stefan last flew, but he had already begun to reduce the amount he flew before that. As a musician he has travelled extensively in Scandinavia, especially in Northern Norway. He feels that not flying has enabled him to see much more.
“I played at a festival on the Varanger peninsula, which lies almost in Murmansk, that is, northeastern Norway at the Barents Sea. It took four days to get there! It was such a cool journey. Not flying is not just about the climate, but also about the experience - travelling overland feels so much richer.”
Stefan thinks that flying is like watching a TV show. You step into a tin can at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and then step out into a completely different location.
"The smells are completely different, it's another temperature, people look different, everything is different. Then you are there for fourteen days, step into the tin can and end up in the same place at Arlanda again. It doesn't feel like reality.
Taking the train through Europe, you get a physical feeling that the world is three-dimensional. I understand how far things are: from Sweden to Sicily it's 3000 kilometers. I feel in my body how far that is. It's almost a sensual sense of presence that you lose when you fly.”
Against consumption
Nowadays, Stefan is more concerned with writing and growing tomatoes than with music.
“I'm not writing that many songs anymore. I write books and articles in various newspapers. I have become more intellectual. Writing music is more about the feeling.”
Not that he’s trying to impose his ideas on others or get on his high horse, but rather influence others through writing about his experiences.
“Never having had a regular salary has reduced my consumption and encouraged me to be careful with money,” says Stefan, who is approaching 60. Many at his age are worried that they will hardly get any pension. “Neither will I, but I live in a fully paid house and I have a garden that provides me with a lot of vegetables. I can manage being quite poor financially. "
Stefan wants to talk about how to be sustainable, rather than writing about how worried he is about the state of the world.
“I feel damn good about not consuming so much. Since I was fifteen years old, I have thought that consumption is just bullshit.The Hippies were right,” laughs Stefan.
What do you think about the Flight Free 2019 campaign?
“I think it is important to be as broad as possible, just as you are being in this campaign. When you do something that is morally good, you risk getting a "goodness stamp". It is important not to be elitist in this. For example, I’ve been a heavy smoker since 1973, and I don’t like it. It is important to be open. I don’t believe in making people feel guilty.”
Are you yourself trying to recruit to the campaign?
I'll meet Gustav Fridolin (a Swedish politician) on Monday and then I'll get him onboard. I'll force him, write that!


Maja Rosén
We Stay on the Ground
Translated by Ingrid Hesser and Anna Hughes

INTERVIEW WITH ELISABET STAF

Elisabet Staf wants her children and grandchildren to be able to have a good life and not be forced to live in a world characterised by disasters and diseases. She feels that few in her generation think the same. "If you go to a 50th or 60th birthday party, all the talk is about Thai trips and apartments in Spain,” Elisabet says.
Elisabet Staf grew up on a farm and has always been concerned about the environment. "It is not possible to run a farm if you do not look after the land.” Today she works in IT but her environmental commitment is substantial. Elisabeth feels that there are few in her generation who are environmentally conscious.
"There are many who love red meat, and if you go to a 50th or 60th birthday party, all that talk about Thai trips and apartments in Spain makes you crazy".
Why do you think that is? Your generation did not have such abundance while growing up, did you?
“Since I grew up on a dairy farm with dairy cows, we almost never left home. But very few people in our environment went abroad in the 70s. The idea of getting on a plane and shopping for duty-free came in the 80s, so it has actually only been going on for 20-30 years. It feels like “nouveau riche” behaviour. Flying is cheap, and you want to go somewhere hot for your holiday.”
Elisabet believes, however, that the reason most people do not do more for the climate is ignorance. They don't understand that we are in a climate crisis. She is very concerned about what the future will be like for her children and grandchildren.
“When you yourself have children and grandchildren, you want them to have a good world, a world which is not characterised by diseases, floods and other disasters. You want them to have a good life, able to fall in love and have a family and a job.”
When did you decide to stop flying?
“In 2016, when we had been to South Africa. I read somewhere about how bad flying is for the climate and I came to the realisation that "this is not sustainable!". I was not aware that flying was so damaging before then, it has not been heard of so much before. ”
Elisabet says that she made the decision on her own, but that several in her family, who first thought she was a bit foolish, have now started to take the train themselves, and also to eat less meat. Elisabet wants to be a role model and tries to influence people in other contexts by talking about her decision not to fly. On Orust, the island where she lives, many know her because she used to run a shop, is active in various associations, started up many local projects and runs a local newspaper.
“I write a chronicle every month and I often mention the climate. On the one hand, I write about nature, but I also share how much I worry about the future. So I try to get the message out when and where I have the opportunity: at work, in my network, in the newspaper and in everyday life with friends and relatives. I hope I succeed with that."
Elisabet wants to join and inspire more to join Flight free 2019 and has joined the ‘We stay on the ground’ local group in Gothenburg. "It feels fun with a group, I think we can strengthen each other," Elisabet says.


Maja Rosén
We Stay on the Ground
Translated by Ingrid Hesser

torsdag 7 februari 2019

MY BEST NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION EVER

Why do most of us Swedes fly on holiday, despite the fact that we’re in the middle of an acute climate crisis?
That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times, but I’ve rarely dared to ask others the same question. Since I decided to give up flying ten years ago I’ve not known how to respond to people when they tell me about their flights. Usually I’ve ended up saying nothing at all, as I’ve not wanted to be a killjoy, but often regretted my silence afterwards. I’ve had many sleepless nights wondering about why I am more concerned about destroying the mood than climate collapse.
Last year I had had enough, and decided that my New Year’s resolution was to dare to be “socially inconvenient”, and start asking people questions about the climate when people tell me about their flights.
That turned out to be the best New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made (and probably the only one I’ve managed to keep). It has taught me so much about people’s thoughts about climate change, and above all – it has given me hope that a change is possible.
One of the first people I asked was my closest neighbour Magnus. He asked us to look after his cat while they went on holiday to Vietnam. Despite feeling pretty awkward about it (especially since he is also our landlord) I plucked up the courage to ask him if he’s worried about the climate, and if he knew how many emissions his flight would create.
After our conversation I felt so relieved as he did not get offended, although perhaps a bit surprised, and after a couple of similar meetings I realised that it actually is possible to talk about the climate. I decided to start a campaign, with the goal to make 100 000 Swedes take a Flight Free year. Ever since, I’ve barely talked about anything but flying and climate change, and one of the most important things I’ve learned is that the climate crisis has a very different for meaning for different people.
Media often creates the picture that we all know exactly what is about to happen, but that we don’t care about it. That is not my picture of reality. When I ask people if they are worried about climate change most people do say yes, but if I ask what they are worried about it is very clear that most people aren’t aware of how serious the situation is.
Hardly anyone knows that the IPCC has given us just ten years to cut the global emissions in half, if we are to have a chance to limit the temperature rise at a manageable level. Even fewer knows what will happen if we don’t succeed.
Many people still believe that climate change is something that will affect others, somewhere else, sometime in a distant future. Few realise that the climate crisis is happening here and now, and that it is themselves, and us all, that will be affected.
And no wonder, as hardly anyone is acting as if we were in the biggest crisis of humanity ever.
Had a third world war broken out, no one would have worried about what to do on their vacation. We would have sacrificed anything to gain back peace, every single newspaper and noticeboard would be about the war and we would talk of nothing else.
The climate crisis is just as severe as a world war, yet we rarely talk about it as an emergency in our everyday lives, and even less about how we are going to solve it. If someone talks about a flying vacation, they usually get appreciative comments. There is a very strong norm to fly and we are unconsciously helping each other to defend our flights this way. Even if you know that flying is not good for the climate, comments such as “one does the best one can” or “one has to get to the sun sometime” are confirmed and approved by people around you, which makes us keep flying.
And since everyone else keeps flying, it can’t be so bad, can it?
Many people feel that they fly so rarely, that it can’t do that much damage. And no wonder. Most of us know someone who flies much more than we do ourselves. You might have a neighbour that commutes to their house in Spain, and that makes your own annual flying holiday appear as a drop in the ocean.
But the fact is that the average Swede only flies abroad just over once a year, equivalent to the distance between Sweden and Spain. That is five times more than the average person flies globally, and through that single flight we emit over a ton of carbon dioxide: the amount to which we need to decrease our emissions in total. That means that our annual holiday uses up our entire carbon dioxide budget, and leaves no room for the things that we actually have to do, such as eat, and live somewhere.
When I tell people this, a lot of them feel shocked; very few are aware of what an enormous impact flying has on the climate. My neighbour Magnus went home and Googled it after our conversation, and to his surprise found that his trip to Vietnam created as many emissions as if he had driven one lap around the globe in his car.
But is it enough to know about this for people to decide to refrain from flying? For some it is. I know of several people who, after calculating their carbon footprint online, have decided to give up flying.
But for most of us, something more is needed. There is one thing that affects people way more than awareness about the climate impact from flying, namely if people around them decide to give up flying.
We humans are herd animals and like to act just like everyone else, especially those who are close to us, or who we look up to.
How would you react if everyone around you told you that they had decided to never fly again? That from then on they would do everything in their power to save the climate?
There is one great advantage to the tendency for us humans to go with the flow: if enough people start to act, change can happen very fast.
To stop flying is one of the most impactful things you as an individual can do for the climate - and it is not just the tonnes of carbon dioxide that you will personally save. It’s the associated impact of affecting people around you. The same applies to the reversed scenario – if you keep flying so will your friends.
As flying is one of the last things people are willing to give up, this is a decision that requires commitment. The knowledge that other people are willing to do the samegive it up makes people react, and reflect.
The conversation with my neighbour Magnus not only resulted in him signing up for the campaign, but he and his wife have decided not to fly again at all. He has also told me that he nowadays thinks about the climate in everything he does and is trying to encourage others to do the same.
He is far from the only one. Something is happening. I have spoken to many people who, during the past year, have gone from being frequent fliers to not wanting to ever fly again. They describe it as finally waking up. And once you’ve opened your eyes you can’t go back to sleep.
Once you have realised that humanity will not survive if we keep living the way we do, that every single flight leads us closer to a global disaster, and that parents around the world are already losing their children due to our lifestyle, there is no way back.
It is fascinating to see the tremendous amount of energy and fighting spirit that people can muster when converting their suppressed climate anxiety into action. It has made me realise that a change is possible, and I feel more hopeful than I have in a long time.
No one can save the climate on their own – but together we still have a chance. If we are to succeed, we who have realised the severity of the situation need to take the lead and show the way. We need to show what it takes with our actions, and we need to be brave enough to talk about it. Don't assume that people don't care - assume that everyone would be prepared to fight for the climate if they knew what is at stake.

We have been helping each other to deny the climate threat for ages – it is time we help each other to wake up!

Maja Rosén
We Stay on the Ground