I try not to fly for my work. I have traveled long distances in Europe by (night)train, often for more than 24 hours. My favourite journeys were Wageningen (NL) – Oslo (NO), Leipzig (DE) – Budapest (HUN), and Zadar (HR) – Utrecht (NL). What I like about train journeys is the slow way of traveling. It can be relaxing and is often beautiful. I can also work better in a train than on a rather hectic journey by plane (I usually do reviews).
My current employer sets off carbon emission through air travel, which is good, but we actually need to cut on emissions, not to neutralise. I unfortunately have to argue with the travel office when a train journey takes considerably longer or is slightly more costly (often they are cheaper), or when train travel causes additional overnight stays. I sometimes do fly, in particular, when private life is affected too heavily, or a journey by train could cause significant trouble due to limited connections across borders. I then try to avoid a domestic, connecting flight wherever possible. I have said no to work meetings and conferences to avoid a flight.
I believe it is a personal, individual responsibility of everyone to limit air travel, but good collective alternatives also need to be built. Society needs to invest in train infrastructure, and scientific institutes need to invest in stable video-conferencing. Among colleagues we should stimulate a cultural shift, in the sense that being busy with a high amount of (air) travel is not something we should strive for.
Matthias Schröter is Postdoc at the Computational Landscape Ecology Department of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. Matthias has a broad interdisciplinary background, including landscape ecology, conservation biology, ecological economics and environmental ethics. His research focuses on spatial ecosystem service assessments, in particular inter-regional flows of ecosystem services, telecoupling and co-production of ecosystem services.