Erasmus+ is an opportunity for students to learn new skills, expand their horizons and mingle with other students in countries across Europe and beyond. However in 2018/2019 over 75 per cent of people who took part in the exchange programme travelled by plane.
Everything we do, from the food we eat, products we buy to the way we travel, releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and so has an impact on the planet’s climate. Of course, some activities have far greater impact than others.
Around 2.5% of global CO2 emissions come from aviation. Together with other gasses and the water vapour trails produced by aircraft, the industry is responsible for 5% of global warming. At first glance, that might not seem like very big contribution and remember, only a very small percentage of the world fly frequently.
For those of that do fly, it is likely to make up a significant slice of a personal carbon footprint. This is because, mile for mile, flying is the most damaging way to travel for the climate. Emissions from planes are rising rapidly. In fact, they increased by 32% between 2013 and 2018. While improving fuel efficiency is gradually reducing the emissions per passenger, it is not keeping up with the rapid increase in total passenger numbers, which are projected to double in the next 20 years.
With 2021 being the European Year of Rail, there’s a calling for free Interrail passes, round trip train tickets or reservations for all Erasmus+ students.
Here are some useful tips for your Erasmus+ transportation:
Try to book non-stop flights whenever you can. It’s the take-offs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions.
If you’re traveling with family or friends and the destination is within driving distance, perhaps you should consider taking a road trip. However, if you’re traveling by yourself, it’s actually much more eco-friendly to fly!
If you do fly, consider doing so with one of the 30+ IATA (International Air Transport Association) member airlines who offer carbon offset programmes to neutralise the aircraft’s carbon emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects.
If you decide to drive to your destination and your car isn’t eco-friendly, consider renting a hybrid or electric vehicle, which uses less fuel and produces less carbon emissions than gas-guzzlers.
If you have the time, traveling via bus, train, or ship generally has less negative environmental impact than travelling by plane.
Until recently, there was no incentive for students on the programme to travel sustainably but the European Parliament is now calling for Erasmus+ students to be encouraged to choose the least polluting form of transport. As part of the 2021-2027 Programme Guide, there is now some help for students looking to travel by train or other less polluting options.