Berättelser Stories

Bernhard, Germany

I used to fly quite a lot because as a scientist, I am used to going to conferences, visiting other institutions etc. Also, my family is spread out around the world.  I always felt bad about my climate impact, but only after the Fridays for Future demonstrations started did I realise how tight the remaining CO2 budget is in order to stay within the 1.5° limit of the Paris Agreement.  So I decided that I need to do something about this in my personal life. 

Besides being vegetarian and using electricity from renewable sources, it appeared that drastically reducing the amount of flying had a large impact on my CO2 footprint.  This was quite easy for me because, already being an established scientist, I no longer need all this travelling to advance my career.  So I made a pledge to not fly in 2020. 

Unexpectedly, due to the Corona pandemic, it turned out that I would not have flown anyway in 2020 regardless of my pledge, and I extended the pledge to 2021 and 2022 as well. But the pandemic also showed that a different scientific enterprise is possible, with a lot less flying, and online meetings instead.  

I hope a lot of this can be maintained in post-Corona times. I especially hope that in the future, it is no longer expected and necessary for young scientists to travel so much in order to establish themselves within their field of science. We all have the responsibility to push for change in scientific culture. 

Besides changing my own behaviour, I also try to spread the word that it is possible to travel distances less than 1000 km without flying. I therefore maintain a webpage https://climatewednesday.org/greta-challenge/ (in German) where we collect reports from scientists travelling professionally over long distances without flying. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we haven’t received any more reports. But I hope we will soon pick up again where we left off.

Bernhard Steinberger

Berättelser Stories

Syd, Ireland

I have been in the habit of going to a chess tournament in October in Mallorca, previously flying from Cork. This year the need to find an alternative took hold, and after hours of research on the internet, a new itinerary took shape. I travelled by overnight ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg, then took a train to Paris. Next day another train to Barcelona was followed by a second overnight ferry to Palma de Mallorca and finally a public bus to Magalluf. It took nearly three days, and another three to get home again, but being retired means time is not a problem, and the leisurely journey meant I got to explore Cherbourg, Paris and Barcelona as well.

I hate the arrogance of Michael O’Leary of Ryanair and really enjoyed the thought that there is an alternative that works and that I can now block emails from them.

The next stage could be harder: trying to persuade friends and family that it is possible to do foreign travel, even from a place as remote as Ireland, without destroying the planet. It will take a long time to counter the aviation industry’s years of propaganda, but the effort must be made.

Syd Cassidy,

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Berättelser Stories

Pike, Malawi

I have a passion about nature; I am a Climate Change and Environmental activist in Malawi.

Flying takes a lot of energy. Burning jet fuel releases a lot of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Greenhouse gases block heat from escaping from the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise just like in a greenhouse.

Air pollution has killed millions of people across the globe. Imagine how many planes have been flying since the beginning of this age… and how many tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions that have been released into the atmosphere? Millions and millions! These have caused more problems from global warming; poor health for humans and other life on earth. 

So flights are contributing much to climate change. If I board a flight, I will contribute more carbon emissions into the atmosphere. If I stay back and avoid unnecessary flights my carbon emissions will be lower.

Pike Ng’oma 
Lilongwe, Malawi

Will you also be flight free in 2022? Make your pledge today!


Fanny, France

THE BEGINNING// I made the decision to stop taking planes in June 2019. I deeply care about the environment and the future of the planet, and staying passive is not a solution… I wanted to feel aligned with my values! I started to see life as a game: how could I lower my impact even more? How can I level up? I don’t see this decision as a constraint. For me, it’s a fun challenge that spices life up! Of course, sometimes I had to say no to some opportunities… but this decision also led to unforgettable memories! 

RECENT EXPERIENCES// During my studies, I was supposed to do an exchange in St Petersburg. In July 2020, I left Paris for Russia by train. But once I arrived in Estonia, I got blocked because of the closed borders. I thought I would wait just 2 weeks… but 6 months later, I was still blocked! So I changed my plans and took a boat to Sweden.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED// Not taking planes brought me unbelievable experiences… I would have never thought I would have lived one day in Estonia, or be able to speak Swedish, or that I would make inspiring friends who enlighten and changed my life! It brings you out of your comfort zone and offers you a new outlook on the world.

WHAT’S NEXT?// Now, I want to continue my studies in South Korea. I’ve just started my journey without planes from Stockholm. Thanks to my previous experiences, I now hope to get lost along the way or find myself blocked in a country I don’t know yet!

Fanny Billault
Art student, France


René, Netherlands

Joining the campaign was quite easy for me, because I have been worried about climate change and other crises related to our human behaviour for several years now (and I have known about it since the nineties). 

I used to fly for dermatology workshops and congresses organised by the ESVD and ESVP (veterinary pathology) if it was too far away to drive, even though I did take the train several times. We combined these flights with our summer holidays. I was aware of the consequences of flying, so several years ago I suggested the organisers of the ESVD congress should discourage visiting the yearly congress by plane, but I never received an answer.

Eight years ago my wife and I became climate activists, and we took part in many demonstrations and other actions. We stopped flying and we tell this fact to everyone who wants to listen (not many people, I admit). We also became vegetarians and now we are mostly vegan. One year ago we moved to an old wooden house, removed the gas, insulated it, put solar panels on the roof, and installed an air heat pump.

We try to live within sustainable boundaries, within the carbon budget that’s left for us, even though this is impossible because of the current structures of society. 

Since 2018 my wife, Eliane (see picture), has been a councilor in Heerlen for the Dutch Party for the Animals (campaigning for animal welfare, but also for system change, climate, biodiversity and related subjects) and I am a member of the Caring Vets, Klimaatcoalitie Parkstad, Parkstad in Transitie, Fossielvrij Nederland and Grootouders voor het Klimaat.

René van der Luer


Ulrich, Germany

My name is Ulrich Wolf.  I live in Saxony, Germany, with my wife, children and grandchildren.  My last flight was in 2005 with my wife.  The stress around flying was uncomfortable for us.  I had concerns about travelling to a place from which I couldn’t return home on my own.  Our alternative was travelling within Germany and to the countries surrounding Germany.  We never missed anything because we stopped flying.  Occasionally, we wondered whether it was weird that we wouldn’t fly anymore but it didn’t bother us much.  In 2020, when I heard of the Flight Free campaign my behaviour felt more purposeful so I pledged to go flight free in 2020 and now in 2021. I like doing something against climate change even if it is only a small step.  I believe that we can not stop climate change with technological inventions.  It is necessary that the people who care about saving our planet, and to whom the wellbeing of people around the world is more important than our supposedly unlimited freedom, take millions of small steps.  When I looked at the photos on the Flight Free World website I saw these people.  I had the impression that without exception they are all very friendly and open-minded people, no matter where in the world they are from.  So it was no wonder that these people volunteered to take part in this meaningful campaign.  And then I wanted that too.

Ulrich Wolf


Vipul, UK

When I realised just how fragile a state our world is in, I tried lots of things to reduce my impact, and the easiest, and best, decision I made was to stop flying for holidays. Now the journey is part of my memories, not something to forget. So, I’ve gladly signed the Flight Free pledge because it’s a tiny no for me, for a huge yes for our planet and its life.

And the best bit? Because I’ve made this public commitment, I hear and see my friends talking about not flying and asking about their ecological footprints – people who wouldn’t normally have given it a second thought!

The best campaigning is definitely to set an example and talk about it.

Vipul Patel
Bath, UK


Bilal, Morocco

I am Bilal from Morocco. For me, not flying is not a big step. I have never been on a plane before so I will not be flying this year, either for work or on vacation, as I have always preferred trains. I choose not to fly because flying contributes to global warming and pollution and leaves an enormous carbon footprint. Aeroplanes run on kerosene which, when burned, releases a very large amount of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere, and although aviation is not a large industry, it has a major impact on the climate.

Bilal Àl Màdàni


Flip, Belgium

As a young boy I was privileged to see a lot of our beautiful world. The Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia, and also Russia, the Middle East and the US. All faraway places. In those days these destinations were highly uncommon and pretty expensive to reach, so the only way of getting there was by flying. Sitting in an aeroplane was thrilling and exciting, and my childhood dream was therefore to become a pilot. Nevertheless, it all went differently and I decided to study aviation technology instead. I was even doing research into how to make flying less polluting, by using satellite navigation and computer systems to calculate the most optimal flight path as a way of saving kerosene.

While undertaking this research, I began to realise that the aviation industry is not at all progressing towards a sustainable system. Flying seems beneficial for humanity, as it is a cheap mode of transporting people and goods, but that is only if you look at it from a short-term perspective. Its tremendous growth has resulted in a system with so many negative effects that in the long run – and even in the near future – it cannot be beneficial for humankind. In more ways than one, flying has lost its sex appeal.

When I heard about this new movement, Flight Free, I felt that this is the way forward. As someone who loves seeing the world, I was then amazed to learn about all the sustainable alternatives. And there are many! Take the train for example. This marvellous piece of engineering can take you through beautiful landscapes and to spectacular cities. It had already brought me to exotic places in Europe and Asia.

”But it takes too much time,” friends constantly tell me. Good point. But think about it this way: We can do two things. Either we can be more efficient, reducing our transport time as much as possible and going quickly from one place to another. But this is stressful, and while it sounds counter-intuitive, when we try to go fast, we actually end up wasting more of our time with things like waiting around at the airport or standing in queues. 

Or we can take more time to do the things we like, and do them well. In my case this means more time for travelling. When I took the Trans Mongolian Express from Europe to China several years ago, it was a real revelation. By taking the train, I saw and felt how big and beautiful the earth is, and I encountered the loveliest people. I learned more from this way of travelling than from just taking a plane, sitting like sardines in a can, looking at some movies with earplugs in and being detached from my surroundings. Something that seems ’inefficient’ and ’stupid because most people do otherwise’, might not at all be so.

To come full circle, Flight Free allows me to say: I am choosing a better world. I am choosing the good life.

Will you?

Flip Cuijpers


Börje, Norway

In 2007 we migrated from Sweden to Norway, after struggling financially when our honeybees died. I had also developed problems with my back. I worked as an agricultural advisor in the local administration in Norway, and one of my tasks was to motivate farmers to embrace ecological farming and consider new ways of production with the goal of meeting the climate change challenge. This was not an easy task when farmers generally are living in a situation struggling with increased costs as well as reduced income.

I realised that I could change my own lifestyle considerably and I could try to convince others to begin to think in similar ways. We built our own low energy house in 2010. We combine production of solar electricity with wood heating in a well insulated house. We grow our own vegetables and fruit and we pick wild berries and mushrooms. We also started up the beekeeping again and have chosen to work with the native dark bees that have adapted to the local flora in western Europe. We recycle as much of our waste material as possible.

We live in beautiful mountainous countryside and use electric bicycles for short journeys and exercise. We cannot live without our car but use the bus, boat or train whenever available. However, it was an easy choice to stop flying two years ago. There are so many interesting places to visit in our neighbourhood or across the border in Sweden, together with our children. We still see the white stripes in the sky from passing jet planes, but we feel confident and satisfied that we will see the number of planes being reduced during our lifetime.  

Börje Svensson
Agricultural advisor,