Is truly carbon-free travel feasible in the modern world?
As you have no doubt heard, young climate activist, Greta Thunberg, has shunned air travel due to the high amounts of greenhouse gases emitted by planes. As she will be attending several events including COP25 in Chile, Greta has opted to cross the Atlantic Ocean from the UK to New York in a racing yacht.
Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 2019/08/07
Is it a publicity stunt? Perhaps. But even if nothing else is gained from this journey, Greta will undoubtedly make policy-makers and industrialists think about how to achieve a less carbon-intensive world.
While I applaud Greta and her supporting team for their efforts to highlight the need for a carbon-free way of life, I have to question the practical realities of her trip.
On closer inspection, this young activist’s journey will take weeks to finish and will not be without fossil fuel emissions, which would be fantastic if it could be achieved.
Her trip will be undertaken on the 60-foot Malizia II racing yacht and is estimated to be a two-week journey across open waters. A dangerous undertaking in itself.
The yacht will have a standby diesel engine, plus an auxiliary diesel engine to run the fridge, heating (temperatures in the mid-Atlantic ocean can be freezing), and navigation equipment.
In September, I will embark on an air-travel journey from Cape Town to Nairobi to attend the Future Energy East Africa conference.
Unlike Thunberg’s travels, my trip will not be carbon-free. But what realistic alternatives do I have?
Until next week.