When Condé Nast contributing editor Mark Ellwood kicked off the second day of the Destinations International Annual Convention in St. Louis in July, he shared a statistic appealing to business and leisure travelers alike: The world has $1.1 trillion earmarked for airport construction. “We are in an airport boom,” Ellwood said, “like we have never seen before.”
But the prospect of continued investment in an exploding airline industry doesn’t excite everyone — including Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist from Sweden who founded the international school strike for the climate movement last year. Thunberg made headlines at the end of July when she announced plans to sail across the Atlantic to attend the UN Climate Action summit in New York on Sept. 23. For Thunberg, who has used the hashtag “istayontheground” on Twitter in reference to her aversion to the aviation industry’s carbon footprint, sailing was the only transportation option.
“Recently I’ve been invited to speak in places like Panama, New York, San Francisco, Abu Dhabi, Vancouver [and the] British Virgin Islands,” Thunberg tweeted in December. “But sadly, our remaining carbon budget won’t allow any such travels. My generation won’t be able to fly other than for emergencies in a foreseeable future if we are to be the least bit serious about the 1.5 [degree] warming limit.”