Activist Greta Thunberg is attending a United Nations global warming summit in New York, and will get there by boat not airplane.
We often hear about the hypocrisy of Green MPs and green activists burning jet fuel to have a meeting about lowering carbon emissions. So there’s a point.
Maybe flying accounts for 5% of global carbon emissions, maybe 2%. It’s hardly a major.
There won’t be electric international passenger planes, or even decent sized hybrids, if the Boeing 787X experience is anything to go by. Billions and billions glug glug. New airframe models take at least a decade and sometimes don’t make it at all. With such a conservative industry, jet octane it is. Air travel is going to be one of the very last nuts to crack in decarbonising international travel and transport. So lie back and forget it.
It’s not clear that Thunberg’s decision to take the boat will lower emissions at all, much less global temperatures. Columns aplenty are arguing on it.
Sure it is symbolically powerful. But arguably the better message is one of smart priority, not picking a few visible public acts.
Or like AirNZ, she could buy a carbon offset and fly with her conscience clear as Arctic starlight.
Greta’s stand is just inappropriate for New Zealand. Only areas with strong international air links really prosper here. Areas without good international airports simply wither – so the Regional Growth Fund is recapitalizing many of them.
Cruise ships won’t ever replace the value, volume, and efficiency of international air travel in and out of New Zealand.
For the foreseeable future air travel is the carbon cost the world pays to enable the very large and otherwise very energy efficient tourism sector. Most of the $39.1billion NZ total tourism expenditure is only possible through air travel.
Without air travel this isolated pile of rocks would quickly become idea isolated, poor, and even more reliant on bulk low value exports.
Our real carbon targets of electricity, farming and land transport are clear.
Support New Zealand: keep flying, and encourage all your friends here too.