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    Europe Talks Flying: Navigating public opinion on aviation and climate


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    From the Climate Community 9th April 2024

    Europe Talks Flying: Navigating public opinion on aviation and climate

    Drawing on polling by More in Common of more than 12,000 people and focus groups in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, Europe Talks Flying digs into attitudes towards aviation and climate change, often considered one of the trickiest topics in terms of bringing about behaviour change.

    Overall, the picture is one of risk and opportunity.

    The risk comes from badly designed campaigns (most people like flying and the idea of ‘flight shame’, prominent as it may be in climate circles, is something that only a minority of the wider population feels or agrees with).

    The opportunity lies in the broad-based support for heavily taxing or even banning private jets,  and investing in faster, more affordable train journeys. This would build a platform for introducing policies like a ‘frequent flyer levy‘, which is generally popular and seen as fair (although some of the groups least likely to be impacted by this are the most wary of it).

    Crucially (as with carbon footprints in general), it is disposable income rather than concern about climate change that determines the amount people fly.

    Focusing on the findings relating to the UK specifically:

    • Low trust in government means voters don’t have faith that the necessary investment in the affordability of train journeys will happen, to allow travellers to switch from short-haul flights. Affordability is the most important consideration when the costs of so many aspects of day-to-day life are unmanageably high.
    • Importantly – in terms of how messages about reducing flying may be received by the audiences of climate campaigns – Progressive Activists are among those most likely to have flown more than five times in
      the last year. Progressive Activists are likely to be actively involved with campaigning on climate change, but perhaps driven by their higher incomes and fewer family responsibilities, are among those who fly the most.
    • There is some limited support for restricting airport expansion, and a general view that airlines should meet the cost for the transition towards low-carbon travel, not customers.
    • Date: 9th April 2024

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