Climate change: vacation with a clear conscience?

Cities and regions are on the move. The challenge is to achieve climate goals and shape a future worth living in. How can alternatives to motorized individual transport be created?? What will tomorrow’s mobility look like?? How to make cities smart? Cities need support on the way to becoming digital cities. Digital solutions for urban mobility help shape sustainable, future-proof mobility. The OBM newspaper interviewed michael kimberger, head of urban mobility& intelligent lighting at smart city deutsche telekom.

  • Mobility

City& land: everything in flux

Cities want more quality of life, less traffic and good integration with the surrounding area. That goes. When traffic routes and smart data utilization "work together" well.
Five examples of how high-performance infrastructure and smart data utilization with flexible solutions will enable the transportation services of the future.

  • Subsidies

The right "momentum" for the smart city

the development of german cities into smart cities is ambivalent. But the road to the smart city still holds uncertainties for some cities. Organizational challenges in particular are hampering some municipalities’ efforts to develop local digitization strategies and take concrete steps toward implementation.

Many people have at least resolved to fly less in order to counteract climate change. But is flying really worse than driving for long distances??

the swedish word "flygskam" has long since entered common parlance in scandinavia. And in germany, too, there is increasing talk of "flight shame" when the discussion turns to climate issues – the ecologically justified shame of getting on an airplane. A term that, in times of the young climate protection activist greta thunberg and the "fridays for future" movement, has a good chance of being added to the dictionary sooner or later.

The earth’s climate is now permanently one of the top issues; there is hardly a news program without a report on climate change. And for more and more people, terms like package tour, all-inclusive or last minute are a red flag. swedish travel blogger evelina utterdahl told ZDF: "i always thought i was environmentally aware. i lived vegan, avoided plastic and unnecessary consumption."only after 75 countries in five years and tens of thousands of kilometers by plane did utterdahl realize that flying fuels climate change. "suddenly i realized that i was doing much more damage through my frequent flying than any average resident."

climate change: are germans prepared to do without?

According to surveys, global warming is also a reason for many Germans to think about environmental protection before traveling. According to a representative survey conducted by the opinion research institute yougov for the deutsche presse-agentur, 74 percent of Germans, for example, would avoid short-haul flights. But do people really say in such surveys what they ultimately do when they go on vacation??

the german travel association (DRV) has its doubts about that. "in recent surveys of consumers, it has often come up that they value sustainable travel, but in reality it looks different," DRV spokesman torsten schafer told mDRR. "people are not yet buying sustainable travel as often as they should be according to the surveys."

This is how high the CO2 emissions are for airplanes and cars

But is flying actually worse for the environment than driving a car if you travel longer distances than the one from munich to cologne?? Yes, says the federal environment agency (UBA). the authorities’ calculation: a flight from germany to the maldives and back (corresponding to a distance of about 16.000 kilometers) causes a climate impact of more than five tons of CO2 per person. With a mid-range car, travelers could save more than 25.000 kilometers (with a consumption of 7 l/100 km). germanwatch comes to similar conclusions: "a flight to Tenerife and back is as damaging to the climate as a year of driving a car," says the environmental organization.

Travel by air is not the only factor responsible for global climate change, explains the UBA. Air traffic also has local effects. Nearly 40 percent of the german population suffers from aircraft noise, which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks.

environmental protection: offsetting air travel with donations

If you still want to travel by plane on vacation, you can offset the CO2 emissions by making a donation. In addition to the price of the flight, travelers pay a contribution to support climate protection projects. These include, for example, the construction of solar or wind power plants in developing countries.

The UBA advises that when choosing a provider, it is important to make sure that the greenhouse gas emissions are calculated realistically and that the climate protection projects are of high quality. Travelers can take their cue from the "gold standard" developed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment.

Alternatives to air travel protect the environment

However, donations for environmental protection are obviously still limited. Although the compensation agency atmosfair, the market leader in germany, recorded a significant increase in donations of 40 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, to 9.5 million euro. However: atmosfair compensated for just 460.000 flights – less than one percent of all flights from germany.

Whether it’s a package tour to Majorca, a last-minute trip to the Greek islands for a week, or an all-inclusive trip to a fancy hotel in the Maldives – a flight may be bad for the climate, but it’s also good for the environment. With other vehicles, it is hardly possible to reach distant destinations, and on top of that, a trip by plane has also become inexpensive. But especially shorter distances – within germany, but also in europe – can also be covered by train or bus. In some cases even as fast, if you take into account the drive to the airport and the waiting time. vacation destinations such as italy, france, austria or switzerland can be reached easily by car. The calculation is simple, of course: the closer the vacation destination, the lower the energy consumption and emissions that harm the climate.

Hotel, leisure& co.: protect the climate on vacation

"around five percent of all climate-damaging emissions worldwide are caused by tourism," reported the UBA as early as 2016. According to the authority, avoiding air travel is just one way of taking environmental protection into account when on vacation. The UBA also recommends choosing a hotel with an environmental certificate. This indicates that the hotel is making above-average efforts to reduce its environmental impact. This includes, for example, the use of ecological food and energy or water saving measures. In addition, local leisure activities could also harm nature and the landscape and thus further fuel climate change.

Vacationing by car: driving in a fuel-efficient manner protects the environment

The car will certainly not stop climate change, but it is certainly better than a vacation by plane. And if you take your car on vacation, you can at least drive in an environmentally friendly way. Fuel and greenhouse gases can be saved, for example, by accelerating slowly and driving with foresight. Optimal tire pressure and the avoidance of unnecessary luggage also protect the environment. By the way, you can also save money, as our 7 tips for saving fuel show.

Even if you are looking for a parking space in your car before checking in at the hotel, you can contribute to environmental protection. With the help of handyparking, for example, it is possible to find a free parking space more quickly and thus reduce greenhouse gases. With smart parking apps, drivers no longer need change for the parking ticket machine. Instead, parking fees can be paid conveniently with a cell phone and the parking time can be shortened or extended on the road. During an inspection, police officers can digitally check whether a parking ticket was paid for using an app. Other smart technologies will also help reduce CO2 emissions in the future.

Evelina utterdahl, meanwhile, has switched to rail – and now travels with a clear conscience. In the ZDF report "fair vacations: traveling with a good conscience," the travel blogger says: "i want to be an example that you can travel, discover and have an exciting life without damaging the climate and the well-being of other people."

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