It may be difficult to stop flying when ”everyone else” is doing it. But what if you weren’t alone? What if you instead were one of 100,000?
This is the idea behind the campaign “Flight-Free 2019”, launched by the Swedish movement We Stay On The Ground (“Vi håller oss på jorden”). If you sign up, you promise not to board an aeroplane during the whole of 2019. But you only have to fulfil your promise if 100,000 more people sign up as well.
Maja Rosén, the founder of the movement, quit flying for climate reasons ten years ago. For many years she kept her decision to herself, but on New Years Eve 2017 she promised herself to become a bit more socially inconvenient. And the movement was born just a month.
“Our aim is to spread awareness of the impact on the climate from flying and also work towards reducing aviation. By staying on the ground you can reduce your own emissions immensely”, Maja Rosén said during a presentation at the Emergency Plan seminar in Stockholm in November 2018. “To refrain from flying is one of the last things people tend to be willing to do for the climate. Signing up for this campaign is kind of a statement that shows you take the climate crisis seriously and that you’re willing to do something. It’s a way to show both each other and our political leaders that we are actually ready to act.”
Progress was slow at first, but when Maja Rosén started working full time with the campaign after the summer holidays, things started to happen.
Ten thousand Swedes have signed up so far, and the campaign has received a lot of media attention, not just in Sweden, but lately also in the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands.
“I think people appreciate that this is something concrete, something you can do together with others that actually makes a big difference”, says Maja Rosén.
She would love to see the movement take off in other countries, and she believes that such an expansion could make the movement in Sweden grow even faster.
“I hope we could have some kind of challenge between countries in 2019. I think many Swedes would sign up just to beat our neighbouring countries.”
Maja Rosén has no intention to ban flying completely. But, as she puts it:
“Just because some flights are necessary, it doesn’t justify all the ones that aren’t, which is actually most of them.”
But what about all the hassle of travelling by train through different countries, and the lack of synergy between European railway companies?
“What’s interesting is that once people sign up for this, they sort of change focus and start looking at the positive aspects”, Maja Rosén says. “I’ve spoken to so many people who say they appreciate travelling much more when they aren’t flying and that they feel grateful for the things they can do without harming the climate.”
Written by Markus Lutteman
Proofreading by Jane Davis
Facts about Maja Rosen and How to sign up
Go to the website www.vihallerosspajorden.se (“We stay on the ground”)
There’s an English section on the website with contact information to Maja Rosén.
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