Number of flight passengers in Germany increases despite ‘Fridays for Future’

Despite the growing Fridays for Future climate protest movement, which calls for less plane travel, the number of flight passengers in Germany is increasing.

Number of flight passengers in Germany increases despite 'Fridays for Future'
A flight departing from Berlin's Tegel Airport in August. Photo: DPA

The number of flight passengers since the start of “Fridays for Future” – kicked off by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg in August 2018 – has gone up over the past year, according to the latest air traffic data from Germany’s Federal Statistics Office.

READ ALSO: Over 200 'Fridays for Future' demos taking place in Germany

In the 12 months between August 2018 and July 2019, there were a total of 125.1 flight passengers, according to the data analyzed by RP Online on Wednesday. That’s up from a total of 119.4 passengers between July 2017 and July 2018.

In April of this year, there were a total of 10.7 million flight passengers, up from 9.8 million in 2018. 

The Swedish concept of “Flygskam”, or flight shame, has still taken a hold of many people across the globe.

One in five Americans and Europeans say that are taking at least one flight fewer per year due to climate change concerns, according to a study by 6,000 Americans and Europeans by Swiss Bank UBS.

Nonetheless, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an umbrella organization of airlines, predicted in September that the number of air travelers will double in two decades.

Cutting costs

Some say that the reason people in Germany have yet to cut back massively on plane travel is the low costs of tickets, especially for domestic and intercontinental flights.

The country currently has an aviation tax, which has been levied since 2011 at rates currently ranging from €7.38 to €41.49, but is still much lower than other EU countries such as neighbouring France. 

Several politicians, including German Environment Minister Svenja Schultze, have said that plane flights departing from Germany are therefore “too cheap”, criticizing that domestic flight tickets often cost less than train tickets.

Germany’s Green Party earlier this year proposed a plan to make train travel in the Bundesrepublik so attractive – and affordable – that domestic flights become ‘obsolete’.

READ ALSO: Trains instead of planes: Could domestic flights in Germany really become ‘obsolete’?

The Christian Socialists (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats, have also proposed a “penalty tax” for flights costing less than €50 in an attempt to cut carbon emissions.

Their ideas could soon achieve more wide-reaching support. On Wednesday morning, Germany’s Federal Cabinet adopted its controversial climate packet, through which it aims to reduce greenhouse gasses by 55 percent compared to what they were in 1990. 

The law stipulates that individual ministries – including Germany’s Transportation Ministry, which have long resisted specific targets for air travel – are responsible for achieving climate protection targets.

READ ALSO: Could cheap flights in Germany receive a 'penalty tax'?


Air traffic data – (die) Luftverkehrdaten

flight passengers – (die) Flugpassagiere

increase/rise – (der) Anstieg

propose – vorschlagen

Umbrella organization – (der) Dachverband

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Sweden to set world’s first consumption-based emissions target

Sweden political parties have unanimously backed the world's first consumption-based emissions target, with the country aiming to hit net zero by 2045.

Sweden to set world's first consumption-based emissions target

The committee responsible for setting Sweden’s environmental goals on Thursday presented its proposals for what goals Sweden should set for greenhouse has emissions linked to the country’s consumption. 

“No other country in the world has done what we have done,” Emma Nohrén, chair of the climate goals committee, said at a press conference announcing the goals. “There has been a pioneering sprit.” 

About 60 percent of the emissions caused by people living in Sweden are released in other countries producing goods to be consumed in Sweden, meaning Sweden’s production-based emissions goals, like those of other countries, arguably misrepresent Sweden’s impact.  

In a press statement, the government said that as well as the 2045 consumption emissions target, the committee has suggested setting targets for the climate impact of its exports, include emissions from flights and cargo ships in its long-term national climate goals, and aim to include emissions from internal flights in its target for domestic transport by 2030.  

The committee also proposes that emissions from goods and services ordered by the public sector should decline at a faster rate than those of the rest of the country. 

Amanda Palmstierna, an MP for the Green Party who sits on the committee, said it was positive that the new goals had the backing of all seven of Sweden’s parliamentary parties. 

“It’s important that all the parties are backing this proposal so that it can become implemented,” she said. “Significant action is required now. We have so little time, as we saw in the IPCC report which came out on Monday.”