The WWF is run at a local level by the following offices...
- WWF Global
- Central African Republic
- Central America
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- European Policy Office
What does Easter mean to Hong Kongers? Perhaps with the exception of some devout religious believers who actually celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, most of us see it as a 4-day public holiday, ideal for a relaxing short trip. And in fact, even before March, we are already flooded with promotions and travel packages designed by travel agents and airlines, from long trips to short trips, from tours to flight and accommodation packages.
Adventurous Hong Kongers are famous for their love of travel. While some prefer luxurious trips, some enjoy being a backpacker and travel to as many places with as little money as possible. However, how many will actually consider how their modes of travel will affect the local community, and even contribute to the global climate change, before they embark on their exciting journeys?
With the emergence and growing popularity of budget airlines, a lot of travelers now opt for flying for both short and long trips. What they might not be aware of is that, a tremendous amount of greenhouse gases get emitted into the atmosphere each time the plane takes off, far more than the surface transport, thus contributing seriously to global warming. The devastating effect of air transport on the climate has already been proven by scientific research, and the legislative proposal of including aviation in EU emissions trading scheme was passed at its first reading in late 2007. Of course, it may not be possible to avoid all air travel, but if we can just plan our trips carefully, especially short ones, we'll realize that some flights are not necessary at all. By leaving those flights out, travelers can save money and the environment and climate in one go.
This is no empty talk. In England, a company called Noflights.com was recently set up. It provides tailor-made flightless travel products and services for travelers, including business travelers, and promotes low carbon or even no carbon flightless travel mode.
So how can we do that? The well developed rail system in Europe is surely something we can make use of. It covers a lot of areas and offers frequent services, making it both an environmentally friendly and affordable option. For example, a Eurostar trip from London to Paris takes less than 2.5 hours and costs only ￡60 round trip. What about its air counterpart? The ticket can be as cheap as the train ticket, only if you are lucky and early enough to secure a budget airline ticket. The flying time will be over an hour, but you'll have to add an extra two to three hours for the tedious boarding and customs procedures. Besides, trains emit far less carbon dioxide than planes.
So for Hong Kongers who are going to make a short trip to the mainland for Easter, is flightless or low carbon travel possible? The rail networks in Hong Kong and the mainland are actually not bad. A lot of travel hotspots in China, such as Shanghai, Guilin, Xiamen, etc, are easily accessible by trains. The travel time may be longer, but trains definitely have an edge over air travel: almost all train stations are located at the city centre, while airports are often far away in the suburbs. With trains, you can just get off and head off directly to where you will lodge or sightseeing, saving the commute time, as well as the carbon dioxide emissions.
Flightless travel is nothing new. Our grandparents only had their own feet to rely on when traveling from province to province. Those who were better off might take the ship or train. But they were not used to having a lot of options. In fact, flying has only become popular and commonplace over the past two decades; in the 1970s, an airline was still using "once in a lifetime" as an advertising tagline. Now in the 21st Century, where limitless options are available and everyone is talking about environmental protection, you will be deemed as old-fashioned if speed is still the only thing you care for. As a responsible consumer, even though we do not have companies like Noflights.com here in Hong Kong, you may try asking for a flightless trip next time when you plan to buy a travel package at the travel ag