Carbon neutral 2020: Meet the people who’ve given up flying

From a digital nomad who's discovered the coastal paths of Guernsey to an academic who travelled to China by train, Helen Coffey discovers that when it comes to flight-free travel the sky's the limit

Sunday 25 August 2019 01:03 BST
Tyers leaves Moscow for Kiev on the way to China
Tyers leaves Moscow for Kiev on the way to China (Roger Tyers)

My best piece of advice? Take a yoga mat with you and do some stretches. Your back gets pretty sore when you spend two weeks on a train without moving.” This from Roger Tyers, a champion of the UK’s burgeoning flight-free movement who recently hopped on a train – well, several – to get to China to conduct a project for work.

A 37-year-old research fellow at the University of Southampton, Roger has been climate “aware” for years – his PHD was in carbon emissions from aviation – but it wasn’t until 2018, when a groundbreaking report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was published, that he decided to give up flying for good. “It said that emissions needed to be drastically cut in the next 11 years to avoid the worst effects of climate change. I thought it was time to do my bit.”

Like everyone I speak to who’s gone flight-free, Roger is thoughtful, humble and engaging when talking about an act of self-sacrifice that, for many of us, seems far beyond our reach. If I expected some air of self-congratulation or self-righteousness – a judgemental comment about my lifestyle as a travel journalist, perhaps, or an embarrassing amount of hand-wringing earnestness – I was left disappointed.

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