In a world where international air travel has almost doubled in the last five years, and is rising exponentially, one would expect an affluent market like Sweden to be absolutely booming; Swedes are outgoing, and love to travel.
The absolute opposite is the case. Fueled by the impassioned monologues of climate activism enfant prodigé Greta Thunberg, eco-conscious Scandinavians are too ashamed to fly, even for business.
What’s more, if they’re high profile celebrities, like actors and politicians, they risk being outed on Instagram and Twitter before they’ve even boarded the plane, should they succumb to the temptation to choose a fast, efficient means of transport to a foreign city. “Take the train!” scream the shaming tweets, while the poor singers and execs try to hide behind their recycled newsprint or designer shades.
It’s common knowledge that jet airliners emit more carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre than other forms of transport – most of the time. But what’s often ignored are the productivity gains from getting to your sales meeting or music gig on time, and without wasting too much time en route. And the knock-on effects.
In fact, it’s not just the travel industry that’s suffering; ‘flygskam’ is contributing significantly to the general malaise affecting the economies of Northern Europe, compounded by the high cost of ‘Energiewende’, particularly in Scandinavia, where solar is not strong. There are just too many grey and dark days.
More rational optimists are condemning these ‘futile’ attempts to go green by shunning modern technology. “You can’t go back to crofters’ cottages and horses and carts, and have global progress too,” says an irritated airline executive. “Besides, the Asian market is going crazy!”
Indeed it is. Chinese and Indian millennials are everywhere this summer. And business class is booked solid. It’s really ‘hygge’.