Seeing family v helping the planet: how to decide whether to fly | Letters

With reference to letters from Sue Pryce-Jones and Donald MacKay (Letters, 2 August), my son lives in Australia, and he is coming to visit this Christmas. At times I wondered if we would ever see each other again.

I don’t think that I and other families should be subject to virtue signalling, especially when we know that an astonishingly high number of flights are taken by the very richest. The damage that the rest of us do is minimal by comparison.

Donald MacKay states that alternatives to air travel are prohibitively priced, and reducing this would be a great way to incentivise people to use other, better options when feasible. I’d like to see the Guardian investigating the green credentials of the various options. For example, this year we took our campervan on the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen. How green is this? Or isn’t it? Would it be environmentally better to go via the Eurotunnel? (Our destination in France was Angers.)
Rachel Edwards
Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire

I found the comments of your correspondents on flying on holiday interesting. I last flew 21 years ago and have no plans to do it again because of the huge environmental damage flying causes. The alternative is Europe’s excellent and still developing high-speed rail network. I have travelled to Avignon, Nice, Bruges, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Warsaw and Kraków, among other places. It undeniably takes longer (though the lengthy pre-flight check-ins demanded these days reduces the difference), but you do get to see something of the countries you are passing through. As the revived European night sleeper network grows, the possibilities become even greater.
Alan Whitehouse
Penistone, South Yorkshire

I do understand that it is very difficult when family live on the other side of the globe. Our youngest daughter lives abroad. However, there is a profound irony in travelling to see them in a way that reduces the likelihood of them living on a habitable planet. Not going to see them, and accepting that contact has to be virtual, is surely one of the changes we all have to make to help protect future generations.
Neil Blessitt

I have a son and daughter-in-law who live in Geneva and an elderly husband. I am also worried sick about climate change and support Extinction Rebellion. I feel terribly conflicted.
Petrina Wade
Southport, Merseyside

While acknowledging that aviation is a big contributor to carbon emissions, there seems to be a reticence around the subject of SUVs.

A Guardian article published nearly two years ago (How SUVs conquered the world – at the expense of its climate, 1 September 2020) quoted a study by the International Energy Agency, which showed that increasing demand for SUVs was the second largest contributor to global carbon emissions from 2010 to 2018, and showed the graph with this information. It also showed that if SUV drivers were a country, they would be the seventh in the world for carbon emissions. I wonder why this is not being met head on now, two years later?
Rosie Clinton
Newcastle upon Tyne

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