Social media influencers must place more emphasis on promoting affordable staycations in place of extravagant holidays abroad to help curb climate change, experts advise.
According to EU recommendations, the maximum amount of CO2 that can be generated per person from flying is 0.6 tonnes. However, the average person currently generates 8.4 tonnes of carbon emissions each year - exceeding the target level 14 times over.
Air travel is detrimental to the environment now more than ever as the number of airline passengers worldwide has doubled over the past two decades. This needs to be curbed, as each additional metric ton of CO2 shrinks the Arctic summer sea ice cover by 32 square feet.
Ketti Wilhelm, Founder of TiltedMap, is in favour of staycations being promoted online to reshape the way we perceive travelling abroad, saying: “All the uncertainty brought by Covid-19 makes this travel season a perfect time to try staying closer to home.
“Coronavirus will remind people to travel more thoughtfully - this means commuting and excess business trips, but also that nagging obligation of the Instagram era to always be going further away, to more exotic destinations – even if only for a short trip.”
Dr Andrew Welfle from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester, believes that influencers who promote holidays abroad without mention of climate change are hypocritical. He says: “Aviation from its early days has been a glamorous way to travel, and many millions of pounds are now spent on promoting tourism to destinations where it is only practical to get to via air travel.
“Seeing celebrities and influencers enjoying destinations via TV, film and social media channels provides a further ‘pull’ factor that makes aviation travel even more attractive. Celebrities therefore have a level of responsibility in influencing tourism.
“In addition, celebrities who champion environmental issues such as climate change and then go on to extensively fly, risk undermining their environmental messaging – something not lost on the public.”
As well as on social media, this championing must be mirrored at political level in order to be effective, Dr Welfle urges: “There is a greater role our UK politicians can play in promoting many of the UK’s great holiday destinations. This would bring jobs and money to UK holiday destinations and at the same time reduce the UK’s contribution to aviation emissions.”
This commentary comes as a new political pollution study reveals that EU and US leaders are still set to exceed climate change recommendations by a staggering 230 tonnes of CO2, despite a drop in emissions resulting from Covid-19 travel bans.