From the Fairfax website traveller.com.au: Tourism and environmental damage: How travellers are ruining the world:

Some friends of mine have stopped travelling. Pretty much, anyway. They're refusing to fly anywhere, unless they're going to be staying in their destination for a very long time.

If they're travelling from Sydney to Melbourne, say, they'll drive. Same with anywhere else in Australia too. The only way they'd board a plane to fly, even to somewhere as close as New Zealand, is if they planned to stay there for a least a month, but probably more. Otherwise, to them, it's not worth the damage they're causing the environment.

The article doesn't explicitly say that their rationale is valid, but a reader could reasonably interpret it that way, and there's no attempt to debunk it either.

Based on the fact that they're willing to travel if they spend a long time at their destination, it's reasonable to assume they're worried about the impact of travelling from one place to another, rather than increased environmental impacts while they're at their destination.

The article doesn't indicate how many people would be travelling in the car, or what kind of car was involved. The cities referred to are Sydney, Australia and Melbourne, Australia, and the most distant major city in Australia from Sydney would be Perth, Australia.

Fuel Efficiency: Planes vs Trains vs Automobiles and Slate's Has Flying Become More Eco-Friendly Than Driving? seem to suggest that driving is not necessarily more environmentally friendly than flying, though there's a confounding factor of emissions being done higher in the atmosphere for flying.

Is travelling by car better for preventing climate change than flying?

A similar question was asked at Is flying the worst choice of travelling, considering the greenhouse effect and carbon-dioxide emission? but was closed for lack of a notable claim.

  • 5
    A completely loaded aircraft, with modern turbofan engines, will emit less greenhouse gasses per passenger km than a single-occupant fossil-fueled car, as your articles say. However both are bad, in the same way that fossil gas is better than coal and oil for energy production, but both are still fossil fuels while non-fossil energy — like renewable and nuclear power — as low as 1% to 20% per kWh in comparison to the fossil fuel based energy. Trains — especially electrical trains, run on renewable/nuclear power — are by far the best option for travel in terms of the climate footprint.
    – user32299
    Mar 14, 2018 at 11:46
  • 2
    An additional variable -- which needs to be taken into account above and beyond "fuel per km" -- is that someone who is taking a plane is more or less by definition going much further than someone going by car. Going by car to the coast 200km away, or going by plane to a coast 2000km, or even 20000km away? -- Bottom line, what numbers exactly are you looking for? There's lies, damn lies, and statistics...
    – DevSolar
    Mar 14, 2018 at 14:26
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    @Evargalo No, nuclear power does not count as a fossil fuel based energy source. Fossil fuels are such fuels that have been formed by the anaerobic decomposition of living matter, such as plants and animals. The problem with using them is that this process has captured carbon, which when used oxidises and forms carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Nuclear power uses fissionable elements, such as Uranium and (hopefully in the future) Thorium and other actinides such as Plutonium and Americium.
    – user32299
    Mar 14, 2018 at 15:02
  • 1
    @DevSolar The question makes is clear that OP is talking about such instances of travel where using a car is a viable option compared to going by plane.
    – user32299
    Mar 14, 2018 at 15:09
  • 1
    What sort of car? Petrol, diesel, hybrid, lpg, electric or all? Mar 14, 2018 at 19:39


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