Grounded – Beyond Flygskam
This report is a study of some of those who have stopped flying, in order to learn how they have handled the goal conflicts involved in their decision. The report moves beyond the simple dichotomy for and against flying and instead it focuses on what we can deduce in terms of policy implications from those who voluntarily choose to stop flying because of climate change.
Flygskam. This Swedish word translates as “flight shame” and has spread across the world. The term refers to feeling guilt over the environmental effects of flying and is symbolic to a movement in which an increasing amount of Swedes are choosing not to fly. Yet, a reduction in flying is a challenge to the liberal idea of free movement. This case study focuses on Sweden, and a self-selected group among Swedes. But it is still of interest to a wider European audience since the word and phenomenom flygskam has spread to other countries. With this report we hope to move beyond the simple dichotomy for and against flying and instead focus on what we can deduce in terms of policy implications from those who voluntarily choose to stop flying because of climate change. The study also reflects on the challenges and possibilities of European policy in relation to flying.
The most commonly mentioned reason to change behaviour was knowledge and insight. This insight occurs not just with the accumulation of knowledge, but in connection to a realisation of the problem’s urgency. This realisation can in turn come from personal experience of climate change and is often related to strong feelings and fear.
Respondents also stressed the importance of conscience and their ambition to be consistent. This idea of justice is not only in relation to others, but also to future generations.
Maria Wolrath Söderberg is an associate professor in Rhetoric at Södertörn University, Stockholm. Her research focuses on how people reason around goal conflicts or multi-perspectival issues, and her earlier work concerns how edu- cation should be designed to promote critical thinking. In recent years she has concentrated on reasoning related to climate mitigation.
Nina Wormbs is professor in History of technology at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. She has published on media history and information society and more recently on climate change in the Arctic. In particular she has focused on changing sea ice, and ways to know and communicate the decline. She has had several commissions of trust with the government and takes active part in the public debate around climate change through talks and articles in the press.
Do you want to learn more about the subject, book an interview with one of the authers or know more about the think tank Fores? Please contact
Mette Kahlin McVeigh
Director of the Climate Program, Fores
+46 (0) 70 473 67 57
Maria Wolrath Söderberg
This publication is a collaboration with European Liberal Forum.