Climate activists such as Greta Thunberg inspiring people to refuse travelling on planes — a new phenomenon dubbed “flight shaming” — has been linked to a slowdown in the growth of air travel that could hurt the industry, according to a new report.
A survey of 6000 Americans and Europeans by Swiss bank UBS has found one in five are flying less due to concerns about climate change, Reuters reported.
About 27 per cent of respondents said they would consider reducing future flights for environmental reasons — up from 20 per cent in a previous survey in May.
Commercial flying accounts for about 2 per cent of global carbon emissions and 12 per cent of transport emissions, according to the Air Transport Action Group.
In a reported handed down this week, UBS predicted climate change concerns could cut the expected growth in passenger numbers by half, which would hit aircraft manufacturers hard.
“With the pace of the climate change debate, we think it is fair to assume that these trends are likely to continue in developed markets,” UBS analyst Celine Fornaro said.
UBS said it expected the number of flights in the European Union to increase by just 1.5 per cent per year — half the rate predicted by European jet maker Airbus.
UBS said it could reduce the number of smaller planes ordered from Airbus and its American rival Boeing by 110 each year, the BBC reports.
The slowing growth has been attributed to a burgeoning global movement known as “flight shaming” that pressures people to avoid air travel because of the impact on the environment.
Sweden has spearheaded the movement, which is known locally as “flygskam”.
The country’s current most famous citizen, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, recently travelled to New York in a zero-emission boat to take part in climate change protests and speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.
The cross-Atlantic journey took Ms Thunberg two weeks to complete.
Ms Thunberg has refused to fly on planes since 2015 and encourages others to do the same.
“By stopping flying, you don’t only reduce your own carbon footprint but also that sends a signal to other people around you that the climate crisis is a real thing and that helps push a political movement,” she told the BBC last month.
She said she wasn’t trying to make anyone feel guilty, adding: “I don’t fly because of the enormous climate impact of aviation per person.”
Inspired by Ms Thunberg’s example, a group of European activists plan to sail to a UN climate conference in Chile in December, rather than fly, to pressure world leaders to find alternatives to fossil-fuelled air travel.