Latest news on the best laptops |
Representational Image | Photo: Ian Waldie | Bloomberg
Text Size:

Sweden’s departure lounges are looking less crowded as more Swedes are deciding to take the train rather than fly.

Passenger numbers at Swedish airports have dropped 8% so far this year. The fall-off coincides with the rise of Sweden’s latest buzzword: “flygskam”, or flight shame.

Image: Statista

As the full extent of climate change becomes ever more apparent, fewer Swedes are willing to travel in a way they see as harmful to the environment.

The impact has been particularly felt on domestic flights, with passenger numbers down by 15% in April alone, compared with last year. In a recent survey, a quarter of Swedes said they had decided not to fly to save the planet.

Image: Rosamund Pearce for Carbon Brief

All change for Swedish sunseekers

Swedes used to be among Europe’s most frequent fliers, travelling long-haul to escape the long Scandanavian winters. Swedish travel firm Ving pioneered tourism in African countries like Gambia in the 1970s.

But nowadays they prefer to take the train, even for long journeys. Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish climate activist, took a 65-hour return train journey to make her powerful speech at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting earlier this year.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.


“I don’t want your hope. I want you to panic,” she told the meeting. “I want you to feel the fear I do. Every day. And I want you to act. I want you to behave like our house is on fire. Because it is.”

Environmental website calculates that Greta’s train journey to Davos, Switzerland, emitted just 44 kilograms of CO2, compared to an expected 262 kilograms had gone by plane.

Railing against emissions

Swedes took two million extra rail journeys last year. And, as you would expect, they have a special word for that, too. “Tagskryt” means train bragging, and it’s widely used on social media by those who want to encourage others to do the same.

There is even a Facebook group where Swedes who prefer to make international trips by train chronicle their journeys.

The trend is popular with families who say children love to see new countries en route to a beach holiday in Italy or Spain.

Now the Swedish government says it wants to reintroduce overnight sleeper trains to cities across Europe, invoking environmental benefits and the glamour of the golden era of railways. It is investing $5 million in the project this year alone.

But the airline industry is fighting back with a promise that a new generation of planes will halve emissions by 2050. It says the annual 860 million tonnes of CO2 the industry currently generates is only 2% of world emissions.

This article was originally published in The World Economic Forum

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here