Jamie Wylie, 2050 Operations Team Member, shares his experience on travelling by train to this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland.
A few of us at 2050 were lucky enough to be accepted to take part in the UN Climate Change Conference, or ‘COP24’, in Katowice, Poland. COP brings together governments from across the world to discuss how to collectively tackle climate change, whilst inviting politicians, scientists and civil society to come together to observe negotiations and discuss all things climate-related.
This year governments will be discussing the ‘rulebook’ for implementing the Paris Agreement, the treaty agreed in 2015 which sets out action to limit global temperature increases to under 2 degrees. This year’s COP was one of the most important ever, as governments negotiated the technical details of how the Paris Agreement can be turned into urgent action on the ground to reduce carbon emissions.
Whilst conferences like COP are a great opportunity for people working on climate change, there’s an eternal dilemma when it comes to getting there. As we all know, flying is one of the most damaging things you can do when it comes to climate change. Carbon emissions from flying are predicted to massively increase in the coming decades, and could almost single-handedly blow our carbon budget for limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. So how do we avoid the horrible contradiction of going to a climate change conference whilst contributing to one of the main causes of climate change?
This year, the 2050 team travelled to Katowice in style with the help of Interrail. From Edinburgh, Newcastle, and Lund in Sweden, the 2050 team made our way across Europe, travelling by train across a collective nine countries to make it to Katowice. For anyone who doesn’t know Interrail, they provide rail passes covering most train operators across Europe, allowing you to travel across the continent with ease. What’s more, they offer discounts for young people, so you can travel on the cheap, too.
My journey started with a swift journey across the Öresund Bridge (The Bridge, for those of you into your Scandinavian crime thrillers) from Lund to Copenhagen, before heading south to Hamburg. From there, I had a quick journey across Germany to Berlin before changing trains and crossing the border to Poland. A change in Poznan and I was on my final leg of the journey to Krakow, less than a hour from Katowice. Reserving seats was a simple process and the Interrail information centre was great at answering all of our questions.
When you take the plane somewhere, the journey really is the worst part of your trip. But travelling by train in Europe brings so many benefits: Gazing at beautiful wintery countryside from the comfort of a warm train; arriving right in the heart of a city close to public transport links; free wifi for getting work done as you travel (and maybe a bit of pre-downloaded Netflix, too…); and importantly, a much more low-carbon way to travel long distances. It really is a million miles away from the often stressful, cramped experience of flying that we’re all very familiar with.
It’s been a real privilege to be able to take part in Katowice, and we all had a great time representing 2050. And what’s more, travelling by train allowed us to see so much more than just COP24. So, next time you’re off on an adventure to Europe, why not swap the plane for the train?