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Flight-shaming a factor as Swedish air passengers tumble, says expert

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Chris Harris
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Experts are pointing to the Greta Thunberg effect after the number of passengers using Swedish airports, especially for domestic flights, tumbles.


The take-off of flight-shaming in Sweden is one of the factors behind a drop in the number of travellers using its airports, it's been claimed.

Swedavia, which operates 10 of the country's busiest airports, said passengers had fallen 4%, from 42 million in 2018 to 40 million last year.

International passengers using Sweden's airports dropped 2% to 28 million over the same period, but domestic travellers fell 9%.

Experts say the drop in Sweden — home to climate activist Greta Thunberg — was partly down to the flight-shaming (flygskam) movement.

"The fall in passenger numbers is a sign that the flygskam movement is having a real impact," said Andrew Murphy, an aviation expert from Transport and Environment.

"But to cut emissions as the rate needed, we need governments to step in and regulate aviation emissions.

"That must start with taxing jet fuel, and continue with developing alternatives to the fossil fuels that the sector is currently reliant on."

The flygskam movement first came to notice in the summer of 2017 when the singer-songwriter Staffan Lindberg announced he was giving up flying.

Thunberg, who sparked a global youth movement calling for government action on climate change, followed suit and took a yacht to get to a US climate conference.

The teenager, commenting on previous monthly drops in domestic air travel in Sweden and Germany, said the numbers would help to bring about the "system change" required to solve the planet's "climate and environmental crisis".

What do you think? Is flight-shaming the way to get action on climate change? Have you got an interesting story to tell about how you've changed your habits? Let me know:

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