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Young people ready to fly less, but not to ban it

Written November 4, 2022, 11:32 amUpdated November 4, 2022 at 11.44

“I come from a wealthy social background. With my parents, as a child I had the opportunity to fly to Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Canada… I was very lucky”, says Anouk Debizet, 25 years old. But the young woman now wants to get away from it all. She explains that she hasn’t flown since 2020 and doesn’t plan to for several years. “I’ve already had enough, it’s up to me to stop because I’m one of the privileged people who could fly”develops this administrative and production assistant in the cultural center of Seine-Saint-Denis.

Like her, 81% of the young people are between the ages of 18 and 35 “willing to change their travel practices for environmental reasons or are already doing so”according to an ObSoCo poll conducted for Greenpeace in February 2022.

These choices are reminiscent of the movement born in Sweden in 2018, ‘flygskam’ (‘shame to fly’ in Swedish), which intends to denounce the impact of air transport on global warming, which is responsible for 2 to 3% of global emissions of CO2.

The question of price

In Nantes, Agathe Violain, 31, also finds the manager of a barter “very pleasant to take time to visit your region instead of ‘speeding’ (rushing) to take a plane to spend three days in another country”she says, not sure about giving it up for good.

“I don’t have anyone around me who says 100% ‘it’s over’. We are a generation brought up in ‘it’s crazy to be able to go where we want, when we want’ and there we find ourselves in ‘maybe we should stop’ mode. Saying no forever to something is scary.she points out.

For Armelle Solelhac, founder of the agency Switch, specialized in forecasting and strategy in tourism, “many young people say they want to prefer softer means of mobility to preserve the environment”.

But “the reality is that what still governs their choice – and this is understandable – is their financial means, and plane tickets over certain distances are still much cheaper than the train or a trip by car”she remembers.

“Form of self-censorship”

66% of young people who are considering a different means of transport than the plane are considering it for cost reasons. Only 13% consider it for ecological reasons, according to the ObSoCo survey. “After Covid, the average age of travelers on low-cost airlines has even gotten younger”according to Armelle Solelhac.

That “Young people do not choose their destination based on the ecological effect of their stay. The CO2 footprint is even the last criterion mentioned in the choice of a form of transport.according to ObSoCo, which notes that a “Slight majority of air travelers (51%) say they are sensitive to the carbon footprint of their flight”. However, 38% of the young people surveyed say “feel a sense of guilt when they fly and one in five feel pressure from those around them”.

“They practice a form of self-censorship, on social networks, we no longer see them on the tarmac or in airplanes next to windows, we will see them in pictures directly from tourist destinations”, notes Armelle Solelhac. Vise versa “People glorify the fact of moving around in soft mobility”she says quoting “an executive who recently highlighted on a professional network the fact of having gone to a wedding in Morocco by bicycle”.

This is Thibaut Labey, 37, who lives in Morbihan and founded the Chilowé guide specializing in ‘outdoor microadventures’. The traveler remains amazed by the success of his publication on the network, including from the point of view of negative reviews.

Don’t fly “remains a touchy subject, people feel attacked by your approach”he said. “I’m not trying to make people feel guilty, guilt is not a good driver of change”he assures.



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