With our planet in the throes of a climate crisis, tough questions around our flying habits are beginning to go mainstream. The Swedes have even invented a word for ‘flight shame’, and an increasing number of travelers are choosing to not fly at all. Brooke Nolan meets a few of them.

Ever since it was backed by climate change activist Greta Thunberg, the flygskam movement has been sweeping the world. The Swedish word literally translates to ‘flight shame’ and is part of a growing conversation to encourage people to stop flying.

For context, worldwide flights produced 895 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2018—that’s 2 per cent of the global total. And while the airline industry knows it has a problem to solve—many airlines now offer passengers the option to carbon-offset their trips, and aircraft today are around 80 per cent more fuel-efficient than they were in the 1960s—for a growing number of climate-conscious travelers, flying is no longer an option. 

One organization, We Stay on the Ground, convinced 14,500 Swedes to stop air travel in 2019. For 2020, the movement has spread to the UK, Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany and Canada. Founder Maja Rosén is expecting 100,000 from each country to make the pledge. But just how hard is it to give up flying?