Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 17:46
It is estimated that jet engines account for over 5% of total carbon emissions so in terms of the environment, flying is a big evil.
Marmot Tours Ltd faces a dilemma as we are keen for you to have as cost effective a holiday as possible, and in many cases, budget fares ensure that flying is the cheapest way to travel. We also want your journey to be as stress free as possible and want you to arrive in France feeling relaxed.
Until recently, we have promoted the use of regional UK airports and the smaller airlines that have offered cost effective flights, however, we have realised that in doing this, we are ignoring the alternatives which are preferable environmentally. What we want to do now, is to ensure that you have information on the environmental impact of the choice to fly.
How Bad is my Flight to Southern France?
An average journey from Gatwick to Toulouse (1690kms), produces 0.3 tonnes of CO2.
A return journey obviously doubles this to 0.6 tonnes.
Options for Greener Travel
Choose an alternative means of transport to flying
The most environmentally friendly way of travelling from the UK to Southern France is by train. This gives out approximately 1/10th of the CO2 emissions of flying the same distance.
For all our centre based trips (70% of our total trips), in Ax Les Thermes, it is possible for you to travel by train:
-London Waterloo (International) to Paris (Gare du Nord)
-Metro to Paris Gare d'Austerlitz (by cab, or take line 5 dir. Place d'Italie)
-Overnight sleeper to Ax Les Thermes.
For most of these trips, we use a hotel situated diagonally opposite the train station thus making it very easy for you to use the train. Train travel has other advantages too:
-you can take more than one item of luggage without extra charge, unlike flying
-you can choose to break your trip and explore Paris or another area of France on the way/way back
The disadvantage is only the cost, although as with flying, there are good deals to be found and the earlier you book, the lower the cost of your trip. Check out www.Raileurope.co.uk for information and train times, as well as www.seat61.com for more information. Note that for return trips from Ax les Thermes to London Waterloo, the trip is as follows:
-Ax les Thermes to Toulouse Matabiou
-Overnight sleeper from Toulouse Matabiou to Paris Gare d'Austerlitz
-Metro to Paris Gare du Nord (Line 5)
-Train from Paris to London Waterloo (International)
In recognition of the fact that the train is more expensive than flying, we are happy to offer that, should you spend a night less in the hotel, due to being on the sleeper, we will discount your trip by the appropriate amount.
Bikes and the train: Unfortunately Eurostar are not able to take bikes.
One of our clients has pointed out to us that the European Bike Express is an option if bringing a bike across for one of our trips. This is a coach service that picks people up in Calais (after they have independently crossed into France with their bike, as a foot passenger), and will take them down one of 3 routes south into France.
This is a great idea - the coach has a custom made trailer for transporting your bike, and a comfortable seat within a coach with seemingly all the mod cons. Unfortunately though, this is a small service and the timetable is not very flexible in terms of fitting in with our Sunday to Sunday trips.
Basically, to get to Toulouse for example (on the Atlantic route), you catch the coach in Calais at 6pm, and arrive at Toulouse at 4pm the next day. The return is arranged on a 17 day system (I presume due to the outfit being fairly small and having a limited number of coaches), so if for example you left Calais on Weds May 30th, arriving in TLS on Thursday 31st, you would catch a return coach from TLS on Thursday June 14th, and you arrive back in the UK on Friday 15th.
Cost for a return to Toulouse is currently priced at £212.00 plus £37 for insurance.
Where this service does perhaps help more, is with our Atlantic to Mediterranean trip, or the Raid Pyrenean, where you can arrange to be dropped off at the Atlantic (Bayonne), near the start of the trip, and where you cycle to Narbonne/Perpignan, near the end of the trip, where you can pick up a coach on a different route (the Mediterranean route) back to Calais.
It is worth checking out the website (www.bike-express.co.uk), but we realise that realistically, unless you have plenty of annual leave and can take time at the start and finish of your holiday, the timetable is unlikely to suit our trip start and finish times.
2. Use the principal of Carbon Offsets:
The Climate Change Strategic Framework (March 2007) states that low carbon technologies in aviation are a long way from being technically and commercially viable. What they suggest is a principle known as Carbon Offsetting.
What is this?
Carbon offsetting recognises that some activities/industries, will be unable to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions. It suggests that instead, these companies invest in other companies or projects that are having a positive environmental effect. By first reducing emisions, then offsetting remaining emissions, it is possible to be Carbon Neutral.
So, if you HAVE to fly rather than catch the train, please consider offsetting the damage.
How do I do this?
- Use an online carbon emissions calculator to work out how much you need to invest in a project in order to offset for your holiday travel.
-Choose a project that you would like to invest in and follow the instructions for that specific company.
Two very good websites that you can do this on are www.carbonneutral.com and www.climatecare.com We used Carbon Neutral's calculator to find that by investing only £5.60 in one of their projects, you could make your flight to/from Toulouse carbon neutral.
Please note that we are only providing information on the type of project available in listing these websites.
3. Green Insurance:
As well as helping with carbon offsets, Climate care have just launched the world's first insurance with carbon offsets built in. This means that when you buy your holiday insurance, either a single trip, or annual policy, you can rest assured that you are offsetting your carbon emissions. We have emailed them for some further information, which we will put on the web once we have it, but to look for yourself, check out www.climatesure.co.uk .