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Maybe we should take the plane

Written By: - Date published: 7:42 am, August 7th, 2019 - 119 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, global warming, sustainability, tourism - Tags:

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.

119 comments on “Maybe we should take the plane”

  1. Stuart Munro. 1

    There's a lot of cultural cringe in "this isolated pile of rocks becoming idea isolated and poor", especially given that ideas travel rather well electronically. It's something that doesn't really bear examination, like most of the frankly silly policies that have become NZ's defaults since abandoning the public interest model for neoliberalism.

    Tourism, like most large sectors, externalize many of their costs to the point where the local people are subsidizing them at a cost to the environment and quality of life. Such overall impacts are rarely even considered.

    And why are we still dependent on low value exports? Other countries learn to develop beyond the commodity economy – is it an innate failing of our people, or of our governance that we consistently fail to do as much? 

  2. Chris T 2

    If the 5% a year from the global airline industry is "hardly a major.", what does that make our entire countries 0.17%?

    • infused 2.1

      Heh, good luck getting an answer to that. It's been my point for donkey years.

      • greywarshark 2.1.1

        So infused are you saying you are a donkey?

      • Jenny - How to Get there? 2.1.2

        Chris T

        7 August 2019 at 8:39 am

        If the 5% a year from the global airline industry is “hardly a major.”, what does that make our entire countries 0.17%?


        7 August 2019 at 12:13 pm

        Heh, good luck getting an answer to that. It's been my point for donkey years.

        And it has been answered for years.

        When he was the country's top science advisor to the government, Professor (Sir) Peter Gluckman wrote on the government website, that because New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions were less than 0.2% of the world's total of emissions. New Zealand;s greatest contribution to fighting climate change will be by setting an example.

    • Shadrach 2.2


  3. Robert Guyton 3

    I bet she has "considered flying" There's always a case for "return on investment" – Greta's presence anywhere could improve the future for all of us, therefore the emissions from here flight could be seen as worthwhile and an excellent investment. That has to be balanced against the potential for her declining to fly influencing large numbers of people to do the same and thereby reduce emissions overall. That's what she might be considering.

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    Stay home whenever possible, fly only when you have to (don't leave home till you've seen the country).

    • woodart 4.1

      good point. in this age of multiple facetime conversations, surely we dont need as many trips to the other side of the planet for meetings. many of these trips are just an excuse for a trip to paris, london etc. convention centre in orkland, white elephant!

      • Robert Guyton 4.1.1

        Being able to, and being payed to, are great temptations to travel. It's hard to resist, but we must try.

    • Jenny - How to Get there? 4.2

      If you are a Green MP, set an example/

      Be like Greta Thunberg

      • Robert Guyton 4.2.1

        Sail to Wellington?

        • Jenny - How to Get there?

          Move to Wellington.

        • Jenny - How to Get there?

          Hi Robert, I know that this move would represent a hardship for some. But if we are in a climate emergency, is a little self sacrifice that much to ask of our MPs?

          And how much of hardship would it really be?

          Aren't all MPs entitled to free accommodation if they move their households to Wellington?

          Compare this to the hardship of our increasingly casual labouring population who have to chase the jobs all over the country at their own expense, often dragging their kids from school to school as their job opportunities change. They get no subsidies or free accomodation to ease the burden.

          Are we in a climate emergency or not?

          Should our MPs especially our Green MPs be setting an example or not?

          • Robert Guyton

            Your suggestion makes sense to me, Jenny. Some sacrifice now, from our representatives, will help us ordinary folk when the time comes for us to make some as well.

          • McFlock

            I think there is value in having MPs genuinely based outside of Wellington (not in Double-Dipton fashion). It means that at least some of their time is spent with people who maybe experience some unimagined effects of policies they might be debating. For this reason I’m also in favour of list MPs having local offices near their real homes.

            But I also think maybe some of them should be able to take the train rather than a plane.

            • Jenny - How to Get there?

              Hi McFlock the train is a good idea. The bus too. Especially during election time. Winston Peters for example used a campaign bus to travel all over Northland in his successful by-election bid for that seat. As for the need for List MPS to have electoral offices out of Wellington, I can't see anything wrong with that. But how about this for an idea That they hold their electorate clinics in their office by video conference. Negating the need for them to fly up to their office for the weekend to conduct these clinics. Their local staffers and volunteers could set it all up. No air miles involved.

          • Jenny - How to Get there?

            Some sacrifice now, from our representatives, will help us ordinary folk…..

            Robert Guyton

            I agree

            But would MPs moving their households to Wellington, with their accommodation costs covered, really qualify as that much of a hardship, or sacrifice, compared to this?


    • "See NZ first"  (no pun intended)

      We did that Robert,  and NZ is generous in that we may visit Australia to see our son and spend 5 to 6 months here,  as the NZ pension is portable for this period.

      This allows us to dodge our winter and spends equal visitng time with our sons and our brothers. We have done this for 11 winters now.

      Sharing assets to help each other enjoy life more and helping by house sitting and pet minding and having house and pet sitters in our own home. We use public transport more in Australia now my hip has been replaced,  so we are lowering our imprint.

      We noted a new idea here since our visit last year.  Some businesses are putting up a display board of their green actions.  Planting and tree %, electricity from renewable %  rubbish recycling %  and so on.  

      As Advantage says "pay your carbon fee"

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    It seems a petty attack line on Greens by various reactionaries, to demand that they swim to meetings thousands of miles away, or cycle to Parliament from the other end of the country.

    If climate change is not seriously addressed now, and that looks like taking all sorts of direct action to achieve, then air travel will not be an issue for much longer.

    In a melt down scenario there will be no mass air travel as we know it. But hey, enjoy all those new absolute beachfront property opportunities…

    • Bg 5.1

      Our business meets online all the time due to geography. Why do they have to attend a meeting when with technology, the meeting can attend them? 

      Reeks of hypocrisy, buts that's never stopped them in the past

      • McFlock 5.1.1

        Mine does, too. But it is small meetings, and is more a stopgap measure as the major communication happens when people commute from other towns and meet face to face.

        And tele-participation at conferences has had very mixed results, in my experience.

    • Jenny - How to Get there? 5.2

      Be like Greta

      Grandma, what did you do about climate change when you were Prime Minister?

      Hello Darling, what a great question’

      Way back in 2019, when the Green Party, in response to the climate emergency, banned all internal flights for the their MPs on principle, and as a leading example of the way forward.

      As the then leader of the Labour Party and the country, to prevent our parliamentary ally, the Green Party, becoming isolated, or put at a disadvantage, compared to the climate change denying parties and MPs. I immediately responded, by supporting a Green Party Bill to extend this ban to all government and opposition MPs. (As part of this package, I also supported our other government ally New Zealand First to begin double tracking and electrifying the rail connection to Whangarei. This initiative oversaw an economic renaissance in Northland that rewarded NZ First Leader Winston Peters with the seat of Northland)

      This move away from air travel by our country's leaders was hailed globally as a leading example to the world, and marked the beginning of the world wide switch away from commercial aviation, towards surface travel that you see today.

      I also supported legislation to move the subsidy for free air travel, into supplying all MPs, both government and opposition, with the latest state-of-the-art video and IT suites, to put them more in touch with their constituents and each other. 

      Happy birthday darling, I hope you like the mini-AI electric train set I bought you.

    • Jenny - How to Get there? 5.3

      Hi Tiger, Though you may subjectively see it that way,  this is not a petty attack line. This is a serious suggestion on how the Greens could make a real difference. 

      When he was the country's chief Science officer, Professor Gluckman wrote on the government website, that New Zealand's greatest contribution to solving the problem of climate change would be by setting an example. What goes for the country goes for its leaders. 

      Greta Thunberg's role setting example in refusing to fly has had real world effects.

      Thunberg has led by example, traveling to events around Europe mainly by train. On Monday, she said she’s accepted a ride on a sailboat to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.

      Some Swedish airports have now reported a decline in travelers, which some activists attribute to the “Greta effect,” a newfound awareness of humanity’s impacts on the planet and a desire to make a difference.

      The Swedes have even coined a word for the shame that travelers are beginning to feel about flying: flygskam, pronounced “fleeg-skahm.”


      Tiger, the airlines would love Greta Thunberg to break her example, they would pay her to do it.

      This is serious business. If the New Zealand Green Party MPs announced their refusal to fly, (at least internally) it would be seen as a serious threat to Air New Zealand.and all the jobs that company provides. Yes the Greens would be attacked mercilessly. But they would then have a platform to stand their ground and argue their case. Are we in a climate emergency or not?

      From a position of principle the Green Party MPs could call on all New Zealanders to follow their example.

      To set such an example will require courage, it will take resolve and determination in the face of vicious attack.

      …..unlike many other activities that contribute to climate change, air travel serves a valuable social function. It gives remote towns a lifeline to critical fuels, food, and medicines. It helps families stay connected across continents. It opens the door to life-changing experiences.

      So reducing air travel demands a difficult moral reckoning, even if we make the decision solely for ourselves…..


      Greta Thunberg has said if our leaders aren't seen to take climate change seriously how can they expect anyone else to?

    • Dukeofurl 6.1

      Ok , an oil company extracts the oil turns it into petrol , but its the car  owner  who makes it into CO2 in the atmosphere, not the oil company.

      A  strange use of the word 'responsible', but its the Guardian after all. Notice they use the word 'industrial'  to further make it smaller.

      Sure making cement is  substantial greenhouse gas source, but whats the alternative to making cement used in making concrete.  Riding a bike doesnt change that.

      • Robert Guyton 6.1.1

        "Ok , an oil company extracts the oil turns it into petrol , but its the car  owner  who makes it into CO2 in the atmosphere, not the oil company."

        Ok , does that work for meth? Is the producer free of responsibility and the user the only one liable? 

        How so, Duke?

        • Dukeofurl

          Meth ?  Its an addictive drug that illegal to manufacture . Its the same how?

          • Robert Guyton

            The raw materials of methamphetamine are not illegal to produce in their country of origin (speculating a little here), therefore the producers are free from blame, according to your model for oil. The producers know the harm they initiate but do it anyway, as do the oil companies. Blaming the user of meth and the user of oil doesn't quite ring true in that light, does it. If the producers of either had higher ethical standards, neither would produce their product.

            That's the equivalence.

            • Dukeofurl

              Theres all sorts of fallacies there

              But if we look at Number 1

              China (Coal)14.32% (likely to be 100s of companies) but used for Chinas Electricity generation, steel making, cement production etc.

              And downstream from that, electronics factories run using coal powered electricity.

              Giving up your computers and phones are you ?

              • Robert Guyton

                I have no phone and am looking to ditch this computer and not replace it. That said, your original claims are still wonky.

  6. Robert Guyton 7

    "Only areas with strong international air links really prosper here. Areas without good international airports simply wither"

    Only because we accept the modern definition of "prospering". With the benefit of a knowledge of history, a difficult future pressing upon us and the imperative to 'think fast or lose the game', we have to come up with a new definition, a new way to live that doesn't require enslavement to old models; free and easy air travel is one of the old ways that will have to go, imo.

    • Phil 7.1

      With the benefit of a knowledge of history… 

       free and easy air travel is one of the old ways that will have to go

      Yeah, because limitations on the mobility of huge sections of population has a history  of working out really well. 

      • Robert Guyton 7.1.1

        Huge sections of the world's population are mobility-limited now. It's the rich who can fly. Google Earth allows poor people to "fly" the planet, if they so desire. 

        • Formerly Ross

          It's also the rich who apparently are deeply concerned by climate change. In poor countries, they're concerned with getting adequate food and clean drinking water and not dying from diseases.

          • Robert Guyton

            We are in the privileged position of being aware of the situation through our communications nets and being well-fed enough to be able to concentrate on what we are hearing. Therefore, we have a responsibility to act on behalf of those who aren't able to apply themselves to the global issues. 

          • Phil

            In poor countries, they're concerned with getting adequate food and clean drinking water and not dying from diseases.

            Mitigating the effects of climate change would be a great way for us to help poorer nations with those problems. 

        • Phil

          Huge sections of the world's population are mobility-limited now.

          True, but international travel is more accessible and affordable to a greater percentage of the world population than it has ever been before. Except, perhaps, for the periods of 'travel' undertaken by soldiers in major global conflicts or during forced migration of slaves (but you can reasonably understand why I don't count that in the broader fact). 

          Long may that positive trend continue. 

          Google Earth allows poor people to "fly" the planet, if they so desire. 

          If you think looking at a screen or tablet is an acceptable replacement for the awe inspiring majesty of standing in front of the Pyramids of Giza, or for the confronting brutality of your eyes being mere inches from Gericault's Raft of the Medusa, then I am genuinely sad for you. 

          • greywarshark

            And it follows the trend of pushing the mechanical technological choice of experience of life for you rather than you deciding what to do and learning from your immersion in actual humanity, not as a device operator with GPS.

            • Phil


              • greywarshark

                Just think about it will you;  huh?

                Reminds me of a joke on my frig:   "A study in the Washington Post says women have better verbal skills than men.  I just want to say to the authors of that study:  Duh."

          • Robert Guyton

            Sure, Phil, but can we afford to travel the way we have now become accustomed to do, wonderful and fulfilling as it may be?

            • Phil

              My view is absolutely and entirely yes.

              I find it utterly baffling that anyone could argue in 2019 that we (individually, as a nation, or as a global population) should retreat from the physically interconnected world to which we currently belong and turn back to insular enclaves.

  7. Sanctuary 8

    Greta Thunberg has been identified as a serious threat by the likes of OPEC and their shrill, bullying media henchmen who have her (sometimes I think literally) in their crosshairs.

    If she flew to the USA then she would be subjected to a relentless campaign of character assassination and culture war attacks deliberately designed to divert the debate and distract from discussing climate change.

    Full power to her for understanding the need to not give her enemies a target.

    • Dukeofurl 8.1

      You do know that she  is a 'branding exercise' by her parents?

      • marty mars 8.1.1

        prove it 

      • greywarshark 8.1.2


        Are you a branding exercise by your parents?   And what brand are you  pushing?

        • Dukeofurl

          Well she was 15 when  she came to the notice  of the media.

          The summit in New York will be her chance to show her abilities outside of being a 'social media brand'

          Her parents , a well known Opera singer and an actor,  engaged a Swedish PR  man Ingmar Rentzhog and he was the one who sent the photographer  to get pictures and first publicised her   school climate strike on social media.

          She has her chance to make a difference  without the PR people after  the 4 week yacht trip across the north Atlantic

          • marty mars

            yep so no evidence just your thunks.

            I find it interesting that with Greta and with Pania on the other thread you don't argue their points just try and sully their name and reputation, their commitment – thus with Greta it is that she is "a branding exercise" and with Pania she is an "outsider" – both smears are cruel in that they attack against the very point of their beliefs and their commitments – it shows you in a very poor light imo.

            • Dukeofurl

              15.  Thats the proof you need , oh at the Pr guy.

              I said  now she has the influencer profile lets see what her  contribution is now.

              The iwi say repeatedly  she doesnt   have whakapapa to Kawerau a maki. They use the word outsider ,as they see her as a Ngapuhi.

              You dont seem to be maori , but that makes a huge difference in matters like this. Maybe it shouldnt , but thats not for me to tell them.

              • marty mars

                I'm very comfortable in my whakapapa and a nobody like you cannot shake that.

                So you try the same 'othering' trick with me – more evidence of your agenda.

                • Dukeofurl

                  I dont agree with you in some areas, doesnt make it an agenda…very committee oriented are you ?

                  Go ahead and tell Maori that their ancestry doesnt matter and 'othering  is a trick '  .

                  Newton appears to be a intelligent and capable person to me ,But Ill let the iwi leader speak in his own words

                  "On Thursday Te Kawerau ā Maki chairman Taua said most protesters "are not from our tribe and don't speak for us… We will not allow outsiders to rewrite history for their own purposes. They do not have the authority to speak for our people and sadly they are misguided in their assertions."

                  I assume you dont like his 'agenda' either when it doesnt align with  yours – as an outsider

                  • marty mars

                    Yes well as usual you are wrong. I'm on the Māori Electoral Roll, are you? I'm on because I whakapapa to my tūpuna. So your idiotic othering is a fail like all the other times you have done it. Nothing more patheitc than a know it all who knows fuck all – that's you dukey

                • Gabby

                  Nobody's a nobody mardymardy.

      • Sanctuary 8.1.3


        • Dukeofurl

           Swedish start-up used Greta Thunberg to bring in millions-Svenska Dagbladet

          Ingmar Rentzhog, an entrepreneur who claims he found and helped develop the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg into a world phenomenon, also used her name to bring in almost SEK 10 million in venture capital for his company – without her knowledge, SvD has found.

          “We had no information about that”, says Svante Thunberg, the teenager’s father.


          Hopefully she can move on from  being a  'startups big find'

      • Jenny - How to Get there? 8.1.4


        7 August 2019 at 9:29 am

        You do know that she  is a 'branding exercise' by her parents?

        From Scientific American:

        Climate Deniers Launch Personal Attacks on Teen Activist

        ….While the language of describing someone as a "puppet" or abused by adults may appear coded, it's clearly a dog whistle that signals her words should be discounted….


  8. ianmac 9

    The internet offers some pretty great technology for exchanges of ideas and the ability for distant participants to "be there." Especially if you are the participant who does not actively speak/present at a conference. Thinks of those who "participate" in the big sporting matches. High definition, 3D, high fidelity sound, big screen.

    Don't leave home until you have explored technology.

  9. francesca 10

    Air travel is becoming cheaper by the day and on the increase. For many, probably the majority, its just another form of consumer experience. Getting the thrill of the "otherness"of other cultures and climes.

    Although increasingly the world is becoming visually homogenous, with everyone dressed by China

    They say travel broadens the mind. Broad and shallow is also a thing

    Go deep

    I reckon there is a depth of experience in one's own back yard, and prefer  the sci-fi  world of insects, the botanical world with its incredibly diverse  strategies for survival, all interspliced with history, geography, geology.

    All our consumer activities should be up for question, for our own well being as much as carbon calculations

    • Robert Guyton 10.1

      Heartily agree, Francesca. To add to your suggestions, I'd encourage the thought that "our backyard" could be made more interesting still, if we wanted it to be that way, by developing regional and local differences, flavours, sights, features, activities, to intensify the "colour" and make "otherness" easy to reach , without the need for air travel. We need to back ourselves, be unique and be the "other" sought by everyone else.  smiley

      • Stuart Munro. 10.1.1

        NZ has potential as a varietal producer which mostly goes unrealized. We should be leading with things like the kahurangi or whitestone cheeses not generic milk powder. White warehou are a preferred sashimi species, but most locals have never tasted them, which leaves our companies incompetent to market them.

        There was a time when government understood this, even created a development finance corporation to foster such initiative. But then some neoliberal buffoon decided they were just an investment bank and sank them with his incompetence.

        • greywarshark

          SM  +100

          The businesspeople and pollies for this country just promote easy pickings.    Go with what you know – and be careful not to know too much or someone will call you an intellectual or unbankable dreamer.

      • Francesca 10.1.2

        Good ideas Robert

    • infused 10.2

      sounds like you've never travelled.

      • Incognito 10.2.1

        Sounds like you want to travel. Stop stirring.

      • Robert Guyton 10.2.2

        Travelling's marvellous. It would be a shame to have to give it up merely to save humanity; what a painful sacrifice that would be!

        • infused

          here's an idea. lets stop reproducing so much. address the actual fucking problem instead of these stupid ideas.

          • Andre

            There's no fucking problem. The issue is what may result from that fucking.

            • infused

              then it shows your complete lack of knowledge then. maybe some basic science around bacteria would be worth a look

              • Andre

                Working out the meaning of that very-slightly-cryptic comment was too difficult for you? Sorry. I'll try to remember your comprehension challenges for next time I respond to you.

      • Phil 10.2.3

        sounds like you've never travelled.

        Yup. The tell-tale for me was:

        "Although increasingly the world is becoming visually homogenous, with everyone dressed by China… They say travel broadens the mind. Broad and shallow is also a thing"

      • Francesca 10.2.4

        I have travelled but I dont view it as a God given right And I'm   grateful for the travel I've had but don't see it as a necessity,more like a gross indulgence 

        That's how it is for me you can of course please yourself

  10. marty mars 11

    "this isolated pile of rocks"

    some call it home – bit sad to read that dismal image of this land – but whatever not really surprised

    I think Greta shames so many that they bring up all sorts of irrelevancies to distract from their heinous contribution to our current climate emergency. She is a bright light indeed yay!

    • greywarshark 11.1

      This green jewel of the South is closer to the truth – the dismissive pile of rocks indicate a put-down mentality that is depressing to read.

      I put here lyrics slightly paraphrased, and older people will know the melody in their minds but I give a link with David Cassidy interpretation below and the feelings coming from being on an island beach with clean sea water;  which we aim for if the will of our government controls and enables it.:

      "Bali Ha'i" lyrics – https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/davidcassidy/balihai.html

      David Cassidy Lyrics

      "Bali Ha'i"

      (The words sound right for Aotearoa don't you think?)

      [Aotearoa] B H  may call you
      Any night, any day
      In your heart, you'll hear it call you
      'Come away, come away'.

      [Aotearoa] B H  will whisper
      In the wind of the sea
      'Here am I, your special island'
      'Come to me, come to me'.

      Your own special hopes
      Your own special dreams
      Bloom on the hillside
      And shine in the streams.

      If you try, you will find me
      Where the sky meets the sea
      'Here am I, your special island'
      'Come to me, come to me'.

      Composers of Bali Hai show tune Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtApiCz_GFw   by David Cassidy

  11. NZJester 12

    Cruise ships apparently give off 3 times as much pollution per passenger than the average plane. So unless they are going by sailboat the trip by plane would be greener.

    A lot of the garbage that accumulates on cruise ships is never offloaded at any port and magically disappears by the time they get into port. I wonder how they make it disappear.

  12. Gabby 13

    Do meat now addy, that was awesome.

  13. Jenny - How to Get there? 14

    Maybe we shouldn't?

    I am 60, my parents were world travelers. They never took a plane. In those days all overseas travel was by ship. (International air travel did exist, but it was way too expensive for the average traveler). The famed Oriana was the main passenger transport link between New Zealand and Australia. 

    In the same period food was packaged in glass and tins, or wrapped in brown paper.

    The disastrous affects of plastic pollution are seeing legislation to discourage plastic use and return us to the older more environmentally friendly forms of packaging.

    There is no reason why we shouldn't apply this sort of legislative thinking to discourage air travel, and many reasons why we should.

    Modern high speed ferries can cross the Tasman in 24 hours compared to airliners 3 hours. 

    Would this extra time really be such a hardship?

    What if air travel was made to pay for its full environmental cost, and surface travel again became the cheaper option.

    • Andre 14.1

      A ferry fast enough to cross the Tasman in 24 hours is very likely to have higher emissions per passenger-km than flying, if it's fossil-fuel powered.

      The contributions of ferry travel to climate change have received less scrutiny than land and air transport, and vary considerably according to factors like speed and the number of passengers carried. Average carbon dioxide emissions by ferries per passenger-kilometre seem to be 0.12 kg (4.2 oz).However, 18-knot ferries between Finland and Sweden produce 0.221 kg (7.8 oz) of CO2, with total emissions equalling a CO2 equivalent of 0.223 kg (7.9 oz), while 24–27-knot ferries between Finland and Estonia produce 0.396 kg (14.0 oz) of CO2 with total emissions equalling a CO2 equivalent of 0.4 kg (14 oz).


      In any case, if flying and shipping were required to pay for their hazardous waste disposal, rather than getting to dump it for free, we'd find out quite quickly which transport modes really are lower emissions.

      • Jenny - How to Get there? 14.1.1

        The world’s fastes ship the Francisco runs on LNG as its primary fuel, Yes still a fossil fuel, but the cleanest burning of the fossil fuels with the smallest CO2 footprint.

        …..the world’s first dual fuel high speed ferry to operate on LNG as its primary fuel, and the fastest, environmentally cleanest, most efficient, high speed ferry in the world. 


        I mean LNG is not perfect but it is better than burning kerosene or diesal. And could be swapped for hydrogen if this ever becomes widely available as a fuel.

  14. Kevin 15

    "Cruise ships won’t ever replace the value, volume, and efficiency of international air travel in and out of New Zealand."

    Like a lot of the comforts we currently enjoy, air travel will change at some point and taking longer to get from point A to B will not be something we have a choice over.

    • Jenny - How to Get there? 15.1

      Exactly. Which is why we should get in early, tax the hell out of air travel and put the money into a fleet of Incat vessels.

      Talk about future proofing the country.

      Think about all the jobs it will create.

      • Andre 15.1.1

        That's making the mistake of forcing a particular response, regardless of whether that response actually improves the problem you're trying to tackle.

        Simply taxing the hell out of fossil fuel leaves the potential solution space much more open and directly discourages the behaviour you're trying to reduce, which is burning fossil fuels.

  15. indiana 16

    Somebody should introduce her to video conferencing, if she wants to be there in person.

  16. Andre 17

    If anyone is curious about exactly how Thunberg is planning to cross the Atlantic, apparently a racing yacht team offered to do a special trip to take her in a former Vendee Globe racer.


    She's in for a helluva ride.

    Considering what goes on as far as building, maintaining, and supporting these kinds of race yachts goes, crossing the Atlantic in one as a specific trip falls firmly in the category of publicity stunt rather than being a big-picture low-emissions way of getting there.

  17. Drowsy M. Kram 18

    'I'll give up my conveniences when you pry them from my luke-warm, dead hands.'

    Was toying with the idea of not doing any more international travel, but Advantage's post ("keep flying, and encourage all your friends here too") makes a provocative case for how wrong-headed that choice would be, and how inappropriate Thunberg’s stance is for NZ.

    Say NO to 'virtue signalling', say YES to BAU – full 'steam' ahead, the iceberg* is in sight.

    *Grandma, what's an iceberg?

  18. Jess NZ 19

    My father brought our whole family from the US to NZ in 1988, seeing how fast the corruption and danger was growing.

    To those who feel NZ would be the poorer without regular outside influence via fast air travel, I say: You don't know how lucky you are.

  19. greywarshark 20

    Peter Bethune is a NZr who has been a leader in trying to develop new energy ideas for boat power.  There is the date 2004 given for the start of the project.


    Based on his research at Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Captain Bethune set out to prove that hydrocarbon fuels could be replaced by sustainable bio-fuels.[6] He had Earthrace designed by LOMOcean Design and built in order to break the world record for a circumnavigation of the globe by a powerboat in hopes that it would call attention to the viability of biodiesel as an alternative fuel. He mortgaged his New Zealand home and financed the building in the hopes of recouping the expenses from sponsorship. He declined a $4 million sponsorship from a company that would have required them to use regular diesel.

    Earthrace World Record (trailer):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0Eb-KVAQIk 


    MY Ady Gil (formerly Earthrace) was a 78-foot (24 m), wave-piercing trimaran, which was originally created as part of a project to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat. The vessel was powered by biodiesel fuel, but was also capable of running on regular diesel fuel.[2][3][4] It used other eco-friendly materials, such as vegetable oil lubricants, hemp composites, and non-toxic anti-fouling, and had features such as bilge water filters…

    The first attempt at the global circumnavigation record in 2007 was ill-fated. The boat encountered mechanical problems on several occasions…

    In late 2009, it was announced that the boat, now repainted black and named Ady Gil, would be participating in anti-whaling operations under the lead of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. During operations in the Southern Ocean, the vessel and the Japanese whaling support vessel MV Shōnan Maru 2 collided on 6 January 2010, resulting in loss of the Ady Gil's bow and injuring one crew member.[6][7][8] Each side blamed the other for causing the collision, and government agencies began an investigation into the incident.[9] The crew of the Ady Gil were removed from the damaged vessel[10][11] and the salvage operation was abandoned, with the vessel sinking the next day.

    So – the end of Earthrace/Ady Gil.

    An action-packed background of the boat and Bethune: https://www.earthrace.net/about/history/

    5/5/2018  https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/102768889/pete-bethunes-long-road-from-oil-explorer-to-enviro-campaigner

    • mickysavage 20.1

      I had the pleasure of a ride in the Ady Gil and it was a hell of an experience.

      I am also convinced that the ship was rammed by a Japanese whaling ship and sunk.



      • greywarshark 20.1.1

        Fortunate for you.

        This from reports about the 'ramming'.

        Bethune Says He Acted Under Orders to Scuttle Million-Dollar Ship
        According to Bethune, after the Ady Gil and the whaler Shonan Maru 2 collided, shearing off the bow of the Sea Shepherd vessel, Paul Watson "wanted me to scuttle the Ady Gil. He said there was no point in towing the boat all the way to the French base, and that it would be best if the boat was just sunk and we could get on with chasing the whalers. Later that day, Chuck and I went to the Ady Gil, and I performed the necessary tasks with Chuck observing. Ady Gil then gradually took on water, and later that night she was left to sink, while the Bob Barker move on to pursue the fleet." (Ecorazzi)

        Which Sea Shepher's Paul Watson denied. 

        • mickysavage

          That was after the ramming.  Let me rephrase this slightly the ramming of the boat was a deliberate act by the Japanese.

  20. bwaghorn 21

    Sweet if 5%  and over is the cut off for doing anything about climate change nzs miniscule 0.1% gives us a free pass

    • greywarshark 21.1


      You wish!   If we don't do our bit those who are doing something will look down their noses at us and our clean green myth will really be muddied.  And we have less power to point the fingers at the big polluters and say in a self-justified way that they are not stepping up and making changes.   Things are bad already and people are getting hot about it, both in their bodies and in their minds.    This is no time for jokes, for hanging back, for looking like irresponsible hicks from the sticks, for people who are just a pusy pimple on a pumpkin at the bottom of the world.   And we have to set a good example to others, and Australia is doing more, though a lot to do for them, they will despise and denigrate us more than they tend to do now if we aren't showing that we are up to our responsibilities.    We have to get tough on ourselves, not this softly softly, oh the economy can't cope, we will lose money – everything has been taken away from the low income part of this country, now the upper earners have to stop looking for an easy ride to whatever they like to spend their money on to please themselves.

      • In Vino 21.1.1

        +1  Waghorn, are you trying to justify betrayal or hypocrisy?  You know the problem.

  21. New view 22

    I can understand travelling if you want to see something specific, but to attend a conference let alone a climate conference seems pathetic. Why can’t any meeting be organised online with all the flashy technology these days. One to one meetings  to exchange ideas can be done the same way. Or maybe the hotels taxis and restaurants would suffer to much.  And we give our farmers a hard time because their cows fart too much. 

    • greywarshark 22.1

      New View you saying what you do so often here will lead to TS farting too and it will be your fault.   You will be the cause of our main pollution.  How do you feel about that?    You don't seem to have any views that are new, and we might have to complain to the authorities on account of you are not delivering what you promise, not fit for purpose.   'What a senseless waste of human life'.'

      • New view 22.1.1

        Fair enough, you’ve put the boot in, but but not answered the question about travelling to a conference about climate change by air, and how wasteful that is when conferences in general could be conducted over the internet.  A reasonable question I would have thought. In fact isn’t that what the article is about. I haven’t done the math but don’t have to. The emissions emanating to the atmosphere from our livestock as compared to the carbon burned by the dozens of flights leaving NZ on a daily basis would be a lot less I would have thought. the article is attempting to shine a light on frivolous air travel and comparing it to travelling by sea. If Im wrong I’m sure someone will be quick to correct me. Instead of abusing me personally why don’t you explain to me why I’ve got it so wrong. The reference to the cows farting was to highlight the media coverage given to that topic as compared to the topic of this article. That obviously went right over your head. 

        • In Vino

          New View – are you aware that methane as burped by our live stock is at least 60 times more powerful as a warming factor than CO2?  So I think: yes, it is quite likely that emissions from livestock are worse than those from air travel. Methane working 60 times worse than CO2 until it breaks down (much into CO2 anyway) after 12 years is pretty damaging.

          You are so short-sighted without any depth, that I think you should lengthen your monika.  How about you call yourself 'New View with no Vision'?

          • New view

            You are trying to discredit my comparisons for what purpose. To justify air travel. Surely not. A 12 hour flight will release a tonn of co2 into the atmosphere. There are hundreds of international flights in and out of NZ every day and thousands of flights outside NZ. I’m not defending animal emissions, I’m trying to highlight the discrepancy in the attention given between livestock and air travel emissions. This article was touching on the roll aircraft and sea travel play in global warming. Most tourists are happy to travel by air and disregard its affects on the environment and if they do think about it still do it anyway because they want to travel. Many of those same people will criticise livestock farming for its emissions. Those who fly as tourists and then criticise livestock farming could be accused of double standards because there is no way they would give up their right to travel. But then I’m the one with no vision. I think the article has done its job to remind us that unnecessary travel is a huge problem globally and not just air travel but also the amount of crap we cart with us and then leave wherever we go. 

  22. Robert Guyton 23

    Please watch this:

  23. McFlock 24

    Besides the fact she's going in a yacht, the cruise ship thing is complete crap. The old liners weren't cruise ships, they were a mix of cargo and passengers.

    I've no idea if it still happens, but you used to be able to books passage on cargo ships – cabin, but no hotel service or theme parks.

    Sooner or later the number of passengers that can be packed into aircraft will reach a fuel and scale limit, and fuel will become more of a scarce resource. The eceonomic balance will go back to shipping.

    Not in time, though. Thunberg's trip simply shows us that if we think and cooperate, we can find alternatives to burning fossils.

  24. lprent 25

    Interesting discussion. Several points worth looking at are (off the top of my head):

    The actual amount of greenhouse gas being pumped out of aircraft is way less important than where it is being pumped out. Basically if you're pumping CO2 out at 10km up, it will be at least an order of magnitude worse as a greenhouse gas than if it happens at sea level – simply because it residence time in the atmosphere will be at least that much longer.

    There is the old question of using lighter than air craft. But the problem is that their area increases the drag coefficient so much that it is unlikely that are LTA with even a moderate passengar load will move a lot faster than something like150km/hour.

    Using hybrid lighter than air aircraft rather than simply relying on a wing surface. The usual problem with drag coefficients gets reduced. So does the level of stored energy to fly – less fuel = less emissions.

    Somehow I don't think that it is ever likely to do passenger transport from Auckland to Southampton (cruise ships do it in a mere 64 days) will ever reduce much. Basically it doesn’t matter how you look at it, transporting people is inefficient in energy and emissions

    On the other hand it depends what you’re doing with travel. I spent a total of 5 months in Singapore last year making sure a massive value project exporting IP completed. I’m pretty sure that was a way more effective economic use of the energy and emissions than flying to the islands to sunbathe would be..

    Personally I mostly use online and work with people everywhere from Texas to the UK. But it is pretty damn hard to deal with off-internet systems or hardware that way.

    Incidentally KJT is correct about the issues of sailing with bulk transport. It really isn’t that useful out in the Pacific or for that matter in the Atlantic in winter. Maybe in inland seas with short runs like the Med or Baltic seas or even the English channel?

    But with the kind of southerlies and other weather systems we get around here, it isn’t going to have a hope of being economic in its broadest sense. When you look at the kinds of goods transported in sailing ships, they were very high value and low mass or not required in a timely fashion.

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