Ski resorts by train

Good for the planet

All travel has a price in terms of harmful emissions, but if you take the train rather than fly to a ski resort you can slash your carbon footprint by up to 90%.

A round trip by plane to the Italian resort of Sauze d’Oulx, for example, produces around 180kg of CO2, according to the carbon emission analysts, Best Foot Forward.

Driving there instead, doesn't reduce the emissions, however. An average car making the same journey will produce 450kg of CO2.

By contrast, a return trip to Sauze by rail - with just a single change of train in Paris - produces only 20kg of CO2. So you could have a ski holiday every winter for the next nine years and create the same carbon footprint as another skier flying just once.

Ski resort carbon footprint.

A 2007 study by a French Government agency and Mountain Riders found that 73% of an average ski resort's carbon footprint is created by visitor journeys (Click on the image to enlarge)

Why it matters

The decision to fly rather than take the train is equivalent to each passenger leaving their computer and monitor running continously for more than three months, or their TV on standby for 22 years. With more than a million journeys taken each year from the UK to European ski resorts, changing the way we travel could make a huge difference.

The global consensus among scientists is that we need to act now to avert irreversible climate change. Travelling by train when you go skiing is one of the most significant actions you can take.

The myth of the 'harmless' flight

You might argue that buying an air ticket is harmless - the plane will take off anyway, right? But that’s not true. Once bookings tail off, the number of flights are reduced. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand.

Look at travel between London, Paris and Brussels. In the 20 years since Eurostar launched, more than 70% of the traffic on the London-Paris and London-Brussels routes switched from plane to train. That has resulted in a huge fall in the number of flights, and more trains instead.

Carbon offsetting

If you want to fly, you can always "offset" the environmental damage by paying a fee to a charity, right? Sadly, it's not that simple. Here's the truth about carbon offsetting. Nor should you believe claims by airlines that they are working to save the environment. This is little more than greenwashing.

The future of rail travel

Travelling by rail instead of air doesn’t just reduce your own carbon fooprint. The more people that make the same decision, the more the travel industry will respond by increasing the choice of rail holidays. Your actions also help encourage ski resorts to improve their own environmental records. At snowcarbon, we're talking to the industry to help that happen faster. And there are many more organisations working hard to promote environmentally sound travel to ski resorts.

What resorts are doing

Ski resorts find themselves at the front line of climate change. Find out what resorts are doing to reduce their carbon footprints. And discover the truth about artificial snowmaking.