In 2016 about 60% of total greenhouse gas emissions at ETH Zürich came from flights. As an environmental science student I was lobbying with many others for reductions of these flight emissions. Then my girlfriend Giulia and I were invited to a wedding in Sydney, Australia. She was chosen to be the maid of honor for the bride, one of our best friends. From the very start it was clear that we could not board this plain and act so decisively against what both of us are fighting for. So we thought, there has to be another way. And there was one. We planned for about six months and started a journey we would not have believed we would ever do in our lives. After around 200 hours in a train and 15 days on a cargo ship we arrived in Sydney. We emitted about 350 kg of CO2 compared to the 5,2 tonnes of a flight (calculation is here). And above all it was a wonderful time – slow, intensive, with a good book and exciting discussions. Of course, we are in a privileged position: we have the time and the resources. But we made this journey to make a point: we have to curb carbon emissions today, not tomorrow. We have to align our values with our actions and stop flying. We need to inspire others to follow and to lead by example. Overall, however, we need a systemic change within our economy and society; a transformation, that puts people and nature before profit. All we can do is to do all we can and to push as hard as possible for a good life for all. Climate catastrophe won’t wait for us.
I am a student of environmental sciences at ETH Zürich and a Co-Founder of the Swiss Sustainability Week (www.sustainabilityweek.ch).