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The unbearable lightness of "we should travel less" calls

Photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash (edited) Photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash (edited)

Mind-boggling and increasingly annoying, especially just after a global pandemic confinement, repeated, apolitical (i.e. conservative) calls for "less travel", and that "We", an undefined "We" as if we were all equal, living in a magnificent, peaceful and abundant world, should travel "less" are becoming more common among the tourism sector's chattering classes. It is even more amusing when these calls come from, or are heeded by, not by professional controversy-seekers, but practitioners who are in effect 'biting the hand that feeds them' and who should know better based on their first-hand experience but also common sense. It is as absurd, as a "We should EAT less" call would have been. The global north, and especially the 1%, travels a lot and eats (consumes) a lot. The 1% cause 50% of global aviation emissions, while a private jet in four hours emits as much as the average person in the EU in a year! It would be great to see the 1% travel less and the 99% travel more. The 4bn people of China, India and Africa have every right to travel more (and eat more). The obese, generally speaking, if it is not a condition generated by health issues, should eat less. The undernourished and starving people, sadly nearly a billion, should eat more. But let us revisit the "less" part. Say there was a 20% decrease in global travel, just as to satisfy the calls of the hypocritical or deluded "concerned", that would certainly result in a far less percentage decrease in CO2 emissions - as, for example, aircraft mainly fly to deliver precious goods, rather than passengers (this is why airplane tickets can be discounted so much). At the same time, it would certainly result in a far greater decrease in employment, due to the multiplier effect of the economy. We have just witnessed this in a dramatic, global scale. And going back to the "eat less" example. Doesn't it also matter, WHAT we eat (chemicals vs organic) ? WHO produces it (small farm vs agroindustry)? WHERE we buy it? (multinational foodstore vs local family grocery) Where does the MONEY end up? (shareholders vs local community?) How FAST we eat (gulping/fast food/private jets or rail/slow food)? Taxes are also useful. A recent study estimated that had the UK started taxing carbon emissions from the top 1% at the turn of the century, it would have already raised over GBP 126bn, that could have been used for just transition purposes, insulation of poor homes and so on. 

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