“I felt like I was shooting myself in the foot.” Julie, 28, has very bad memories of her last plane trip two and a half years ago, so much did she think about the carbon footprint generated by her flight. This feeling has a name: the “flygskam”, or the shame of flying in Swedish. It was in this Nordic country that this trend was born, in 2017, which seems to be spreading today in France, when the aviation sector alone weighed 6.8% of the country’s CO2 emissions in 2019, d ‘after the government site. “I flew for the last time in June 2019, also remembers Clément, 29 years old. A few days later, there was a big heat wave and I became aware of the imminent danger. It pushes to change his lifestyle.” And to change his habits, especially during the holidays. Julie has opted for a “zero carbon summer”, and will go to Istanbul by night train, on the instructions of the guides on carbon-free travel, which she collects. During her journey, the young woman will stop in Vienna, Budapest and then Bucharest: “The pleasure is also linked to the effort that we put into it, she underlines. It will bring me much more than being in a Club Med on the other side of the world.”
The train is not the only alternative for these French people wishing to reduce their carbon footprint during the holidays. This summer, François, of Parisian origin, decided to visit his own region on foot: “I use my metro pass, my shoes, and that’s it.” He admits that he has never been “anti-aircraft” but, in recent years, he no longer considers air travel as a “trivial act”. For example, the carbon footprint of a Paris-New York return trip is around 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent, according to the government civil aviation website. That is half of the average emissions per capita that we will have to achieve to limit global warming to 2°C in 2100 (according to one of the scenarios of the Paris Agreement in 2015). And the French are far from the mark: in 2019, the carbon footprint of an average inhabitant amounted to 9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. “For people who travel by plane regularly, no longer taking it is the most effective measure to reduce their emissions. This is where the benefit in relation to the effort is the greatest”, underlines François-Marie Bréon, physicist-climatologist.
A chance: the French do not have to go far to discover varied landscapes, as France is so rich in terms of ecosystems. There remain, for some, the regrets of no longer traveling the world. Rodolphe, a young adventurer passionate about diving, dreamed of the deep waters of the Great Barrier Reef. He puts it into perspective: “Going to the Mediterranean, I realized that we saw a lot of things with a mask and a snorkel. I have a few spots where I can see a whole bunch of colorful fish.” And if, every summer, the Parisian plans his holidays in the South in June “to avoid the heat of August”, this year, the heat wave episode slowed him down. The young man prefers to postpone his trip to September to escape the high temperatures. Same arbitration for Clément, who nevertheless studied in the South-West: “I spent the weekend of July 14 in the Basque country to take advantage of the sea air, rather than cooking in Toulouse, shutters closed. “
This beginning of summer 2022 was also marked by fires, in particular in Gironde, where campsites were destroyed by the flames. A new destination removed from the list by some French people. “According to a study that we conducted among 3,000 holidaymakers, 62% of them say they are influenced by the weather and 41% say they are ready to change destination in the event of climatic risk, high heat or great cold”, confirms Didier Arino, director of Protourisme, a specialized consulting firm.
Beyond the means of transport or the weather, other travelers are looking for holidays under the sign of sharing, self-sacrifice and environmental protection. In summary: travel less but better, favoring quality over quantity. We then speak of sustainable tourism, in response to the carbon impact of a sector responsible for 11% of emissions in France in 2018, according to a study by Ademe. “Responsible travel meets the leisure and revitalization needs of tourists by minimizing the negative impact on the environment and maximizing the positive consequences on local populations and the economy”, summarizes Caroline Mignon, consultant in sustainable tourism.
It is with this in mind that agencies specializing in sustainable tourism have developed, such as Double sens. This company, born sixteen years ago, offers immersion stays in a community, “a bit like a version of Rendez-vous in unknown land without a camera”, jokes Antoine Richard, its founder. Since its creation, Double sens has sent 1,200 people, including Sandrine, who has just returned from two weeks in Sri Lanka. “Until now, I have always traveled with a five-star formula, confides the forties. Five years ago, I became aware of our environment, our lifestyles. And today, I want to give meaning to my holidays, and not only to enjoy as a tourist.” For four days, she stayed in a mangrove plantation, to help the locals prepare the plans. Once there, the environmental impact of the trip is low and, above all, beneficial for the local economy: Sandrine stayed every evening with the locals, and everything she consumed was produced on site. “This represents 20% additional income for the local community”, specifies Antoine Richard.
A practice shared by Maryne and Jules, authors of a blog specializing in responsible travel. The couple embarked on their own in sustainable tourism. Limit the plane to long-term trips, consume 100% locally, promote local trade… They are particularly attentive to every detail when they organize their trips, especially accommodation: “We will be attentive to the commitments taken by the hosts in terms of waste and energy management, the social policy of the establishment and actions in favor of the environment”, specifies Jules, who has got into the habit of scrutinizing all the labels in this domain. After two years without leaving due to the health crisis, the couple is preparing a trip to Guatemala and Mexico at the end of the year. Always with the same objective: “enhancing local communities”. Too bad if you sometimes have to take the plane.