How to travel without hurting the planet

Words by Joe Minihane

01 July 2020


It’s impossible to escape the fact that global travel is having a major environmental impact, whether its CO2 emissions from long-haul flights or excessive tourism having a deleterious effect on fragile ecosystems. But there are ways that travel can be positive for the planet. Here are a few tips to bear in mind next time you’re thinking about hitting the road.

Biofuel jets

Aviation accounts for two per cent of total global greenhouse emissions according to the European Commission. Worryingly, by 2020 they’re expected to have grown by a further 70 per cent since 2005. There’s no escaping it, flying is bad for the planet.

That’s where biofuels come in. NASA projects that when fuels made from succulents, logging waste and even municipal rubbish are mixed with standard aviation fuel, emissions from planes can be cut by between 50 and 70 per cent.

In January 2019, an Etihad Boeing 787, powered by biofuel, flew the seven hours from Dubai to Amsterdam. The Salicornia plants used for the fuel were grown in the UAE at the Seawater Energy and Agricultural System farm.

Reef protection and regeneration

Coral bleaching has seen some of the world’s most vibrant underwater environments decimated in recent years. At the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, guests can take part in a Coral Adoption Programme, which includes the chance to plant special frames on which coral can attach itself and proliferate. Prices range from $175 for a small frame to $375 for a large frame, with in–house experts overseeing the coral’s development and ensuring a broad range of fish species are introduced, to prevent single species domination.

Take the slow line

The Swedish concept of ‘flygskam’, or flight shame, has seen a boom in train travel from Scandinavia to the rest of Europe. On her recent European tour, environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg chose to take the train from Stockholm to Italy, before heading north to London. Ving, a Swedish tour operator, now offers services from Stockholm to Davos for £1,500.

The UK–based rail travel planning site The Man In Seat 61 ( says it has seen a massive growth in traffic from Spain and Italy, with customers increasingly keen on taking scenic routes and swerving airports. Eurostar claims that its route from London to Paris emits 90% fewer greenhouse gases than the equivalent short-haul flight. And with the recent launch of the luxurious new Caledonian Sleeper from London to Scotland, taking the slow line is certainly catching on.

To maximise your eco-friendly travel experiences, please contact our team of travel specialists.

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