Going Green – Help the planet: let the train take the strain

Travel by train, it’s a lot better for the planet (photo: Adobe)Travel by train, it’s a lot better for the planet (photo: Adobe)
Travel by train, it’s a lot better for the planet (photo: Adobe)
Is there a way to make my summer holiday greener? January is traditionally the busiest month of the year for travel companies. It’s the grip of winter, the long nights of summer feel like they’re so far away and many of us are dreaming of sunnier climes.

The aviation industry accounts for two percent of global CO2 pollution, that might not sound a huge amount but it’s the fastest growing sector in terms of emissions and there is no technology fix available so what’s already bad is only going to get worse.

It’s worth remembering to when emissions are released high up in the atmosphere like the ones that come from planes, they’re more potent and have a greater impact on climate change.

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France is leading the way when it comes to ensuring people make the most of other modes of transport, they’ve banned domestic flights where train journeys of less than two and a half hours are an alternative.

Train travel is growing in popularity and is a great option for a summer get away. There are companies catering specifically for travellers who want to get away on the train. Leisure rail travel numbers are increasing and there are plenty of people starting to opt for that as their preferred method of travel when it comes to holidays.

There’s a great website www.seat61.com website. Not only does it have all the information you need when it comes to booking travel by train but it’s got sleeper information for those who want to travel and rest and wake up at their destination and it’s also got plenty of information about international rail services.

There are so many exciting developments when it comes to train travel too. New services are opening up across Europe – some are making twin city breaks a possibility where you can travel from the UK to ski resorts or to cities like Amsterdam.

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What’s more, where Eurostar used to have the monopoly on cross channel travel, both Virgin and Evolyn are looking to launch trains across to the European mainland from the UK.

A quick google of “the best train journey’s in Europe” yields plenty of options and food for thought so while the weather’s bad and the nights are dark, it’s a perfect time to feel a bit of wanderlust and book something that’ll be good for you and the planet too.

Celebrity spot

​Her third album was called Solar Power and New Zealand singer Lorde used her lyrics to highlight climate change.

With songs called Oceanic Feeling and the title track named after green energy, The 27 year old said when it was released it wasn’t “my big climate change record”. “I’m not a climate activist, I’m a pop star. I stoke the fire of a giant machine, spitting out emissions as I go.

There is a lot I don’t know.”

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Green swap

​Swap meat for plant based one day a week. January is synonymous with lots of things and one of them is Veganuary.

If you don’t feel like taking the challenge and ditch meat completely, have one or two meat free days a week.

Finding out things about our planet is easy to do

I love the sector I work in. I’m hugely passionate about the environment and I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can communicate the science and benefits to people of going green including in this column every week.

While almost everyone who works in this sector does so because they feel passionately about protecting the environment, as a sector, we really haven’t been the best at communicating to the public.

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In fact, it can feel like an overcrowded area sometimes where information seems to conflict itself and lots of people saying different things. As well as being less effective, varying messages can add to the confusion many people experience around environmental solutions.

A report by the charity Pilotlight has highlighted exactly this too.

They found there are 16,000 social enterprises and charities working for a sustainable future in all sorts of sectors from biodiversity to the climate, to energy, to agriculture and consumption and waste.

So, it’s no wonder things can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re trying to find information to make a good decision or you’re trying to learn about something so you can change behaviours.

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There are some great resources out there but knowing where to look doesn’t have to be the headache when it comes to finding out the things you want to know about our planet and green issues. https://onehome.org.uk/useful-organisations/ has lots of information about organisations that are championing different sectors in the space beyond the big charities such as WWF, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit https://eciu.net has a free daily newsletter, which is a great resource for anything related to climate and energy. Most broadsheet newspapers have environment sections where you can learn what’s going on particularly the Guardian.

The Green Alliance https://green-alliance.org.uk is an environment issues independent think tank. The National Association for Environmental Education http://naee.org.uk are an environmental education charity. The Energy Saving Trust http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk are the ‘go to’ for energy issues. The Ethical Consumer https://www.ethicalconsumer.org is a great one stop shop for information on over 40,000 businesses and products that have greener approaches.

Recycle Now https://www.recyclenow.com is great for any recycling information as you can search by postcode. The Institution of Environmental Sciences https://www.the-ies.org/sector/water is a great site to learn about sustainable development in detail. The Environmental Law Foundation https://elflaw.org helps to support people protect the environmental where they live.

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Fact or fiction

​For small island developing states, disaster-related economic losses have been as high as 200 per cent of the size of national economy. Fact. Some small islands are a few feet above sea level leaving them vulnerable to sea level rises.

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