Environmental protection

Travelling in times of climate change

However, according to a study by the German Travel Association (DRV), society would be prepared to travel in a more environmentally friendly way. 62 percent say that climate-friendly travel is important to them. Almost half (42%) would even be prepared to pay a higher price for air travel if the CO2 emissions were offset. 42% would accept a longer journey to and from the airport.

5 tips for climate-friendly travel

So how can we integrate climate protection into our own travel behavior and business trips? It is clear that politicians need to take action and create the right framework conditions. A kerosene tax, the CO2 levy or expansion of the rail network are on our politicians' to-do list. But employers, employees and private individuals can also contribute to climate-friendly travel.

1. sustainable travel by bus, train or bike

The sustainability of a trip is determined almost solely by the choice of transportation. 75 percent of all emissions are caused by the journey to and from the destination. Air travel in particular has a significant impact on the climate: a single flight alone can emit more CO2 than the average footprint of a person in Germany per year.

The long-distance bus is the most ecological means of transportation, directly followed by the train. For longer distances, traveling by bus or train is therefore recommended in terms of climate protection - especially when traveling in Europe. In terms of CO2 emissions, traveling by car is around five times higher, although the number of people in the car must be taken into account.

For business trips, the train can be preferred to the flight, especially when traveling within Germany. If the journey and the time at the airport are included in the flight duration, the time difference is not very great. If a train connection is not worthwhile, employees can be provided with a company car or a shared car - preferably electric.

2. sustainable accommodation

Immediately after arrival and departure comes the choice of accommodation, which accounts for 21 percent of CO2 emissions in tourism. Instead of huge hotel chains, preference should be given to small, privately run hotels or guesthouses. A vacation apartment is generally more environmentally friendly than a hotel. They save on daily cleaning and changing towels and guests can cater for themselves with seasonal and regional food.

However, there are also sustainable accommodations that can be booked directly. When booking hotels for business trips, you can look out for accommodation with certifications and labels.

3. climate tips for your vacation destination
Planted volunteer Uta Nabert on her trip through New Zealand

In the vacation destination itself, the most environmentally friendly way to explore the area is on foot, by bike or by public transport. Car sharing is also an option for exploring more distant places. Some accommodations also rent out e-bikes or bicycles and vacation resorts offer affordable mobility options such as rental cars or car sharing. The same applies to traveling to business meetings.

Otherwise, the same applies as at home: save water as much as possible, buy locally, regionally and seasonally, find out about proper waste separation, use towels several times, use the air conditioning only sparingly - if at all, treat nature with respect and take a bag with you when you go shopping.

4. CO2 compensation

Even if offsetting is only the second-best solution and avoidance and reduction should also be the focus when traveling, this combination is still better than a flight without offsetting. By offsetting your travel footprint, you support global climate protection projects that actively save CO2 on site, improve the lives of local people and support the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

‍5. the duration of the trip

In general, the longer the trip, the better. Especially when traveling long distances, climate-damaging flights cannot be avoided. Such vacations should therefore be less frequent and longer. This concept may sometimes be difficult to implement for business trips. That's why you should always ask yourself: is the trip even necessary or is an online meeting enough?

By container ship to Canada

During her trip, our volunteer author Uta Nabert took an important first step towards sustainable travel: instead of flying, she took the train from Germany to Asia and then continued on to Canada by container ship.

Author and Planted volunteer Uta Nabert

What it's like to come back

But what is it actually like to come back? The travel journalist has now published a book about this with Delius Klasing Verlag: "Wieder da und doch nicht hier". She is donating her fee to Planted. An interview.

Uta, you will donate your fee to Planted. Why?

I have already fulfilled two dreams: I have traveled around the world and I have written a book. My third dream has always been to plant my own forest. But as I'm better with letters than with beech trees, I decided to leave it to someone who knows their way around.

Why Planted?

I came across Planted while researching for the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper. At the time, I was writing an article about a young woman who wants to reforest the whole of Russia. I saw the German counterpart in Planted. It was important to me that the forest is located in a country where the ownership rights are secure, so that it has a chance of being protected from deforestation in a hundred or two hundred years' time. I also really want to help with the planting in the future and see how this forest develops. Until then, I sometimes support Planted on a voluntary basis and write texts.

On the one hand, you've traveled a long way, but on the other, it's bad for the environment. Do you have any tips for commuters and travelers?

I think we've all seen over the past two years that we don't have to jet around the world to work and attend meetings. This saves time, money and avoids stress. Last but not least, it's good for the environment. From an employee's point of view, I can say that I wouldn't start working for a company today that doesn't allow me to work from home at least 80 percent of the time. In my company, all meetings and consultations take place digitally and are extremely effective.

I can recommend the train to anyone who can't avoid business trips: I think it's great for working, especially if you're on the train for many hours at a time. I experience ICE trains as rolling open-plan offices. My book was written on long train journeys.

You donate your fee to an organization that plants trees. At the same time, your book was printed on dead trees. Problematic?

Book "Back and yet not here"

Every type of production and consumption is problematic. Basically, the only solution is to do without. But the question arises as to whether we should give up reading of all things. After all, I made sure that Delius Klasing Verlag used FSC-certified paper for my book. According to the WWF, FSC-certified paper is obtained from forests that are managed according to stricter ecological and social principles, among other things. However, the seal does not appear to be the universal solution: Greenpeace ended its membership of the FSC in 2018. Of course, you can also download the e-book version of "Wieder da und doch nicht hier". But to read it, you need other valuable resources. The best thing to do is to buy the book, read it and put it in the nearest bookcase - keyword sharing economy.

And what is your book about now?

Traveling around the world is an adventure - coming home is a challenge. Many globetrotters, whether backpackers or professional travelers, experience this. Many who have spent some time abroad realize after returning home that it takes a long time to get back on track mentally. Until then, friendships fall apart, partners go their separate ways and plans go awry. In the book, 23 travelers - backpackers and professional travelers - who have experienced this have their say. They also talk about how they dealt with problems and conflicts.

Curious? You can get Uta's book here.