Fly less. Yes, you!

Woman outside builing with European Union flags. Photo.

Written by:
Kimberly Nicholas, Senior lecturer, LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

You already know, dear reader, that if you fly, it’s your biggest source of climate pollution.

Just 1% of the world’s population are regular flyers— and they represent 50% of climate pollution from flights. (I was in that group until I put my frequent flyer card in a museum.) Eeeeeek!

After a big drop in 2020, we see flying rebounding fast right now. But we know that a “recovery” of business-as-usual flying means climate catastrophe. Flying needs to decline, because flying today is at odds with the big-ass reductions in emissions we need to make to avoid blowing all of humanity’s remaining carbon budget in the next 83 months. (ACK!)

A great place to start is to join the Flight Free Campaign, which started here in Sweden. Some chapters, like the UK and US, offer the chance to pledge to go flight-free for a year, to make a significant personal change and work for broader system change. (If work or family commitments mean you can’t go flight-free, you can also pledge to be flight-free for holidays.) Also check out the Stay Grounded campaign.

Some ways to get started or ramp up staying grounded, focusing on work flying:

  • Start conversations about flying at work, and find at least one person who wants to work towards your organisation flying less.
  • Get your organisation to use behavioural science to support flying less, following guidance from World Resources Institute to:
    • (1) Make virtual easy;
    • (2) Use positive social norms and pledges;
    • (3) Encourage senior staff to lead new norms by convening explicit travel-reduction conversations; and
    • (4) Formalize institutional policies and procedures, like changing budget templates or proposal guidelines.
  • Ready to dive in? is a one-stop shop for everything from practical guides to hosting low-carbon conferences, to getting your organisation or industry to fly less, to how to push for funders and incentives to support flying less.
  • Join campaigns and communities like, which has fabulous resources and stories for academics flying less.
  • Here’s 4 minutes of me talking about how our department is going about flying less, and here’s a whole podcast on Flying Less!
  • Make institutional guidance like the Tyndall Centre decision tree to prioritise flights, and start conversations about equity. (Flying is usually distributed very unequally within organisations; their guidelines prioritise flights for younger and less advantaged scholars.)
  • Get inspired by others who are already leading the way- like these universities who have implemented or are planning measures.


stopped flying within Europe in 2012. In fall 2023, I took a 3-week, 9-country overland tour, mostly by train, to give a series of talks and join meetings with policymakers, researchers, and climate communicators. Here are a few photo highlights. 

Map of route in Europe. Illustration.
Map of my Eurotrip September-October 2023.
EuroTour -23 begins! First trip Lund –> Oslo.
Take away food. Photo.
Ideal: bring homemade lunch in reusable container. Reality: I’m running out of the door after frantically packing and buying food to go. Still, eating plant based saves more emissions than meat in reusable container.
Woman on ferry. Photo.
Hej då Oslo! On overnight ferry from Oslo to Kiel, Germany. Planned a review paper with colleagues on flying less and well-being.
Obligatory selfie while biking in Paris with Eiffel Tower in the background.
Woman on train station. Photo.
Boarding the Eurostar from London heading back to Lund.

The text was first published in Kim’s newsletter, We Can Fix It, on facing the climate crisis with facts, feelings, and action. See the archives and subscribe.

The mobility to Paris was supported by the French Embassy in Sweden.

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