The number of flights in 2020 will fall by up to 70 per cent from last year, due to COVID-19. People indeed will fly less. Roads also are less busy as people in the UK took up 80 per cent fewer journeys by car in April this year.
Strict measures are forcing many to change their travel plans. What do we plan on doing once the pandemic is over?
To find out, the YouGov Cambridge Globalism Project polled around 26,000 people across 26 countries using a survey designed by The Guardian.
Three times more people agree that humankind was mainly or in part to blame for climate change than didn’t.
Despite widespread agreement that our actions have an impact on climate change, the survey found a lot of difference in how people planned to change their behaviors. It all depends on the country they lived in.
In Italy, the UK and Germany, nearly a third of people say they would fly less after the pandemic. But in many other countries outside of Europe, the reverse was true. In Nigeria half of the people asked say they would fly more. 40% of people in Brazil say the same.
Worldwide flights produced 915 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2019. It accounts for 12 per cent of emissions from all transport sources.
Less people on holidays abroad
So the popularity of holidays abroad among Europeans could certainly fall post-pandemic. In Italy, 40% of people say they would take a break inside their own country. Almost twice as many people in the UK say they would also look to travel at home.
In Sweden, home of ‘Flyskam’ or flight shaming movement, over 1/3 of people say they would travel abroad for holidays.
Although measures should encourage people to use alternative daily forms of transport like walking and cycling, participants admit they plan to drive more in future.
In Spain and Greece around two-fifths of people say they will take more car journeys.
Interestingly enough, the overall YouGov survey finds that a majority of people in Europe didn’t plan to change their behavior at all.
As humans, we are notoriously bad at predicting what we will do in the future. So, dreams of getting away after being under lockdown restrictions had an impact on how people respond. Earlier this year experts warned that “revenge travel” could become a problem. This is as we try to make up for the holidays cancelled due to the pandemic.
The answer to this is perhaps not to try and change people’s individual behaviors. But instead to discourage those who have the most impact. Despite only making up 16% of the world’s population, planes departing from the richest countries contribute almost 2/3 of emissions from passenger flights.
Research also shows that it isn’t necessarily our once a year summer holidays abroad that fuel climate change. In the UK for example, 70% of all flights were taken by just 15% of adults. Discouraging frequent fliers with a tax on people who travel more often is one measure that has seen growing support in Europe over the last few years.