She’s leaving – but not on a jet plane

A biology expert from the Centre for Alternative Technology in mid Wales is heading to a wedding in Australia and plans to take her time and avoid polluting planes.

Babs Haddrill, 28, has been asked to be a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding in Brisbane, Australia.

But, not prepared to add to the emissions pumped out by air travel, she has decided to take cleaner transport – including buses, planes and boats – to reach her destination.

A spokesman for CAT told edie Babs had bought a bus ticket to Moscow and planned to improvise from there, taking the Trans Siberian Railway across Russia and continuing by rail to Singapore, where she hopes to catch a boat to the Australian mainland.

The trip is expected to take six weeks.

“The carbon dioxide from air travel is one of the biggest single contributors to climate change,” said Babs.

“It’s been a challenging trip to organise, but definitely worth it to know I’m not having a harmful impact on the planet.

“I can’t wait to be on my way, looking out the window of the Trans Siberian Railway which traverses 3608 miles through remarkably varied landscapes.

“If I had just jumped on a jumbo at Cardiff International I could be there in 22 hours but imagine the adventure I would be missing out on,” Babs said.

A single flight from the UK to Australia uses the same amount of energy needed to heat five modern houses for an entire year, or as much as would be used to produce and transport food for five people for a year. A return flight can emit more damaging carbon dioxide (CO2) than a whole year of driving.

When this and other greenhouse gases are churned out at high altitudes, it is considerably more damaging than at ground level.

The spokesman said Babs was publicising her trip because she wanted to show people what could be done to lessen their impact.

“If she can change a few people’s perceptions of travel, that is an added bonus,” he said.

Asked how realistic is was to expect people with limited holiday allowance to travel overland to reach their destinations for leisure breaks, he said: “We would say that people really need to reconsider how much they need to fly in the first place.

“If you really care about climate change and its effects, it is difficult to justify a long distance flight just for a short holiday – the effect on our climate dwarfs any other efforts to cut CO2 emissions.”

As for the question of travellers simply offsetting carbon emissions by paying for tree planting, renewable energy schemes and similar projects, the spokesman told edie: “We think carbon offsetting is a false economy – planting trees or fitting low-energy light bulbs are definitely good things, but these offsetting schemes rarely reflect the true amounts of carbon emitted by a plane flight.

“Also, what happens when the trees are cut down, for example? CO2 goes back into the atmosphere. There are also other, much more potent greenhouse gases churned out by planes which are not offset by these schemes. Much better to not fly in the first place, instead of offsetting your guilt!”

Babs’ progress can be followed on her blog,

The predicted carbon cost of her trip is expected to be about a quarter of what it would be if she flew.

Babs has yet to plan her return trip, but has given assurances it will not be by plane.

Sam Bond

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