New online tool assists users in finding sustainable travel options

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg have developed a website to help users find sustainable travel destinations.

The website informs holidaymakers about which destinations are the least environmentally friendly to get to and which mode of transport to travel by if you are thinking of making the switch to sustainable travel.

The ongoing climate crisis

When COVID-19 restrictions came to an end, the ongoing climate crisis was accelerated by people’s increased desire to travel.

The climate crisis is highlighted by recent heatwaves and droughts across Europe. Researchers argue that we should consider environmental impacts when deciding where to go and how to get there, as international air travel is one of the least sustainable travel options.

Jörgen Larsson, core researcher behind the travel and climate holiday tool, said: “If you are planning to go on a vacation or business trip and you want to do it in the most climate-friendly way possible, this is aimed to be a tool for choosing the destination, transport mode and accommodation. Those three are the main factors affecting the climate footprint.”

How the website works

The tool uses European energy and transport data to create a visual calculation of distance travelled, mode of transport used and type of accommodation stayed in to find the most sustainable travel destinations.

The outcome is shown as xx kilograms of carbon dioxide illustrated as a value of Arctic ice melt; with a much higher value, the further you choose to fly. The calculation is based on a scientifically published analysis of the link between carbon dioxide and rates of ice-melting in the Arctic.

The website considers post-pandemic options, such as using an electric car, for those who may only want to holiday internally and an interactive flight map which shows that choice of destination has the biggest effect on our carbon footprints.

It also emphasises alternative sustainable travel options, such as ‘train-bike touring’. Another post-pandemic idea, this type of holiday includes taking the train to locations both domestically and abroad, while exploring locations by bike.

Larsson said: “Train-bike touring has transformed my vacationing – it has given me ways for more adventurous trips without having to fly.”

The researchers have called for cooperation from European governments in raising more awareness about sustainable travel. The EU Green Deal Initiative aims to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

The Travel and Climate website has received positive feedback on how it is used and is beginning to influence people’s travel decisions.

“It manages to influence at the grassroots level individuals choosing low carbon vacationing options,” Larsson said.

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