SAVING A TONNE, An Adventure across Europe to save a tonne of carbon. Part 1 - Istanbul, where east meets west.
SAVING A TONNE. Part 1, June 4th 2023
This image is from Istanbul, formerly the ancient town of Constantinople, and the mighty Босфор (Bosphorus), the body of water separating the continents of Asia (left) and Europe (right). I arrived here on Saturday 3rd June, the day of the full moon and wandered this bustling city for several hours before boarding a bus to Sofia, Bulgaria.Images of the recently re-elected president are everywhere and there is a lot of construction going on in the city. Coffee, cigarettes and BBQ mingle with the familiar warm scent of summer as families enjoy the parks and relax in the evening sun.
This is the start of a journey across Europe to Aarhus in Denmark where I will attend a IETM International network for contemporary performing arts plenary meeting.
My mission in traveling this way is to save a tonne of carbon and disrupt the usual pattern of FIFO travel, instead choosing to pass through countries and places I would otherwise fly over. I was going to undertake a longer overland journey (40%) in 2020 to Tromso in Norway, also for an IETM meeting. That had to be abandoned as the pandemic struck, you can read about it here: https://www.linkedin.com/.../imagined-journey-tromso-time...
Now circumstances are different. The Russian invasion and ongoing war in Ukraine has stopped easy access to the trans Siberian railway. I understand there are many wonderful new train lines in China but I simply didn’t have the time or money to navigate them this time. So I'm traveling 15% of the return journey from Australia to Denmark overland to save a tonne. My mission is to rehearse a different future, one where we break old habits and build new ones, doing everything we can to reduce our carbon emissions because we know we are destroying the natural world and warming the planet at an alarming rate. Of course, I could decide not to travel at all, I could stay at home, but I am on the board of IETM and have agreed to certain responsibilities. I wrestle with myself about these choices. More on that another time.
The theme of the Aarhus meeting - Living on the Edge - is all about Green Transition. The organisers say 'Climate change is not only an environmental problem; it also interacts with concepts of power, injustice and resources. If ignored, these underlying structures may very well keep us re-enacting the same patterns time and again.' There will be Inuit representatives, First Nations people from Greenland and the Faroe Islands, with Sami, First Nations people from Norway, Sweden and Finland, calling on us to do more to look after the natural world. This aligns to the values of Australia's First Nations people in calling on us to Care for Country. First Nations voices and their cultures have been discriminated against and systematically destroyed in many parts of the world. Last week in Norway, the truth and reconciliation commission report was read live for the nation. It took artists 30 hours to deliver, detailing horrific treatmeant of First Peoples. Last year the IETM theme was focused on creating a fair, equal and inclusive performing arts ecosystem. Next year the IETM theme will be translocality and reimagining the International. These three themes are highly relevant matters of converging crises, particularly in Australia where we have ongoing social exclusion linked to a violent colonial past, and where the majority of the population identify with other countries, their ancestors are buried in far away parts of the world. Our identities are diverse, trans local and in need of greater focus on green transition.
My flight over was full of happy excited travelers seemingly oblivious of their impact. Tourism is increasingly driving cultural agenda and accounts for approximately 8% of global carbon emissions. The flying itself accounts for 2.5% in CO2 and 3.5 % if you include other impacts. According to flightaware.com before the pandemic there were approximately 9728 planes and 1.2 million passengers in the sky at any one time. While those numbers are down approximately 10% it’s still significant impact. In fact flying accounts for the most significant direct impact on climate change that an individual can have, taking into consideration that only 5% of the worlds population have ever flown at all. So flying and travel are also an issue of climate justice.
These are realities and tensions we live with now and must reconsider at this time of unprecedented climate change. I will be posting more about my travels and reflections throughout June. I hope you’ll come on the journey with me. #savingatonne
You can find out more about the stats here: Ourworldindata.org https://sustainabletravel.org/issues/carbon-footprint-tourism/
And more on the IETM Aarhus meeting here: https://www.ietm.org/en/aarhus23