Published 2020-05-06

This post is also available in Swedish

Changed travel behaviour the main obstacle to reduced flight emissions

The potential to cut emissions from Swedes’ air travel is great — but not everyone wants to change their travel behaviour. There is particular resistance to dropping business trips in favour of digital meetings. This is shown by the report ‘Air Travel and Climate’ (in Swedish), co-authored by Mistra Sustainable Consumption.

The report surveyed climate emissions from the Swedish population’s air travel, calculated the potential of changed travel behaviour for reducing emissions, and analysed the will to change such behaviour.

The dominant reason why Swedes travel is to experience sunshine and warmth, and this is also the type of travel that accounts for the largest share of emissions. Business is another common reason, but accounts for a lower proportion. Visiting relatives and friends ranks third as a reason for flights, but accounts for the second-highest share of emissions after sunshine travel.

Few ready to refrain from business trips

When the researchers looked at the theoretical potential for emission reduction, the results showed that 67 per cent of total flight emissions could be avoided with other transport and destination choices. But travellers’ reluctance to change is an obstacle, and the realistic potential cut in emissions is about 26 per cent. The most commonly accepted option is that of choosing flight destinations closer to Sweden. When it comes to replacing a business trip with a travel-free (virtual) meeting, acceptance is low.

‘Air Travel and Climate’ was produced as part of the ‘Climate-smart holiday travel: current analysis, policy instruments and tools’ (Klimatsmarta semesterresor – nulägesanalys, styrmedel och verktyg) research project, funded by the Swedish Energy Agency, in collaboration with Mistra Sustainable Consumption.