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How changing our travel habits can combat climate change

What if we could positively impact on our planet, our Island and the people and places we visit and travel to by changing the transport method we use?

Closing the Island’s borders during the Covid crisis brought travel to a halt for many residents, however there is another crisis that brings with it more significant consequences for us and the places we love to travel to. Climate change is having an impact here and now, and more gravely so in other countries around the world.

Since restrictions have long been lifted, the number of people travelling by air is vastly increasing and cultures and communities being squeezed out of over-crowded, popular tourist hotspots they used to call home.

Currently, the average Island resident produces about seven and a half tonnes of carbon every year. However, this figure can vary considerably from person to person, with factors like wealth and lifestyle choices playing a huge part. Travel therefore plays a big factor in those emissions.

Here's how travelling on a return trip to the UK from the Isle of Man compares in emissions. Think about how many emissions you and your family or business could save by travelling differently;


Travelling by car is in most cases less carbon intensive than flying but provided you have multiple people in the car. Driving alone in a medium-sized petrol car produces about 192g of CO2 for every kilometre you travel, but with passengers that can be shared.

2023 conversion factors
from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero for business travel (sea) from were used to calculate travel emissions for the average passenger from the Isle of Man to the destination. Specifically, foot passenger (0.01871 kg CO2e) and car passenger (0.12933 kg CO2e) factors. Business travel factors were used instead of the factors for freighting goods (RoRo-Ferry and Large RoPax) as the travel factors were deemed more relevant for passenger travel than freight. The conversion factors were then used to create a rough estimate by multiplying the conversion factor by km travelled (e.g. 150km x 0.01871).  


There are a few things we can consider when travelling that we make a big difference, without stopping travel altogether;

  • choosing boat and rail for off-Island travel emits far less carbon than travelling by plane or in long journeys by car
  • contain air travel to only those destinations that are further away. 
  • consider taking a longer holiday less frequently instead of multiple shorter trips.
  • bring the whole family along in a car journey is better than  driving solo - so if travelling alone can you take a train or bus?
  • taking the ‘slow travel’ choice can be more enjoyable, exploring a destination on foot or on bike helps us see places more and soak up the more authentic culture of a place.
  • whether at home or away, the more energy we use, the more carbon emissions we generate. You may be less likely to consider energy efficiency on holiday as your hotel foots the energy bill and but this is all contributing to our warming climate. 


Businesses also have a part to play, by reducing the requirements on their staff to fly to essential trips only. Prioritising the use of conference or video calls, allowing staff to combine business trips with holidays, or allowing them additional leave to go by train can all help reduce our impact when it comes to travel.



A trip by ferry to Liverpool instead of flying

can cut emissions by 92%

Can you make a pledge to be flight free or an infrequent flyer?

How to embrace slow travel in 2024

Seek out serene destinations, benefit local communities and keep travel costs down with these tips to help you plan more sustainable travel experiences. Swapping to train and ferry journeys can cut your carbon footprint hugely too, which is why many are looking to slow travel.


5 Slow travel journeys from the Isle of Man to europe

Travel consciously and with convenience! These inspiring itineraries detail routes to European destinations and can be reached in 24 hours from the Isle of Man. The world is at your fingertips but not at the cost of your carbon footprint or our planet! Can you make a pledge to consider how you travel into 2024?


Curious to know more about the impact of travel...

When plane fuel burns, it produces CO2 as well as non-COemissions, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), soot, water vapor and sulfate aerosols. All of these interact with the atmosphere and have a warming effect on the climate in different ways and at different time scales, making them complicated to calculate but all trap additional heat at flight altitude.


Having talked with several experts, the consensus is that 'offsetting' is not a long term solution to climate change.  Partly because your money doesn't always get to where it should do (there have been some scandals, and in any case much of your money disappears into 'admin costs'), and partly because there's a limit to how many wind farms can be built or new forests planted. 

Most importantly, 'offsetting' is an excuse for the travel industry to simply carry on polluting without changing their business practices.  The real answer to CO2 emissions is not to try and offset them, but to stop producing as much CO2 in the first place.  

According to the UN, aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. While much investment and technological developments are happening in this area, air travel will still take some time to decarbonise. Policy actions and the efforts of industry have led to improvements in fuel efficiency over recent years but a sustained growth in air traffic means it is a huge area to tackle.

Electric flight and the use of sustainable aviation fuel, a biofuel that can be made from agricultural product are being investigated, but lots of land is required for this and other sectors are competing for this type of greener fuel.