Episode 17 – Taking the Train to China – The Climate Academic Leading by Example by Refusing to Fly for Work – Dr. Roger Tyers, University of Southampton


Although this podcast often focuses on disruptive innovation and technology that is helping to tackle environmental problems. I also like to do the occasional episode that focuses on a broader topics and puts the spotlight on individuals or groups leading the way with the way they are thinking or acting.

With the issue of climate change seeming so vast with so many factors influencing our carbon emissions many people have started to focus on what they can do as an individual. Because at least we have control over that. It may not have the impact of big policy changes but once momentum build and more people join in, the positive impacts can collectively be big.

And after having one fewer child and ditching the car entirely, research has shown that if you want to make a difference as an individual one of the most effective contributions is to take fewer flights. With one return trip to New York from Europe equalling about ¼ of an average Europeans’ total emissions for all other activities over an entire year.

But I’m about solutions, not just problems, and with cleaner long haul air travel still looking a way off I had to look elsewhere.

That is when I came across today’s guest Roger Tyers. Roger is an academic from Southampton University, who is researching issues around climate change. But that isn’t the main reason I got him on the show, the main reason is that he pledged to not fly for at least the next 2 years to set an example. However, there was one issue. His research involved work in China. So with the pledge signed Roger decided to take the train almost 5000 miles through several different countries and across different continents.

I had to interview him to see how this journey was, how he planned it, what it was like and what did it cost. We also spoke about the wider issue of flying, why it is so cheap, finding fulfilment in flying less often and we also touch on his research as well.

As I mentioned in the interview I have done my fair share of air travel over the years and even though I still think disruptive solutions and big scale changes will play a big part in addressing the issue of climate change I think the problem is now so urgent that like Roger says whereas in the past we defined ourselves by what we did, this generation should probably start defining itself by what we don’t do. So although like Roger I’ve also pledged to not fly in 2020. I’m not saying it will be permanent but in future, I’ll make sure trips are meaningful and much less frequent.

If you also want to pledge to not fly in 2020 I will put a link to the Fright Free 2020 campaign in the description along with some other useful links to resources some of which Roger mentioned for helping to plan his epic train journey.

Follow Roger on Twitter: @RogerTyersUK and Instagram: doctorchoochoo

If you want to sign the pledge head to: https://www.flightfree.co.uk/ in the UK or in the wider world check out https://noflyclimatesci.org/

Here are some useful resources that Roger mentioned in the episode:

http://www.thetravelbureau.co.uk/ The travel company who specialise in international train travel and helped me book my trains.

https://www.rome2rio.com/ Fascinating site showing the non-flying options that are available around the world (with prices, times, maps and links).

http://afreeride.org/ A great website explaining the problem of flying, why it is under-taxed etc, and what policy solutions we ought to pursue

https://www.flightfree.co.uk/ Go here to join the UK campaign for less flying and read about other non-fliers’ inspirational stories.

Rob Wreglesworth

Rob is the head writer at Innovate Eco sharing knowledge and passion cultivated over 10 years working in the Environmental Sector. He is on a mission to build a community of people that are passionate about solving environmental problems.

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