Greenhouse Emissions and "Ordinary Holidaymakers"

The contribution of aviation to CO2 emissions (and other gases that are less reported) has only recently become a news item. It was not a popular issue when this site was first set up in 2003 and had nothing to do with the reasons for setting up the site. However, a number of readers have suggested that it is an issue that should be covered.

Ryanair has presented itself as the champion of "ordinary holidaymakers" against "highway robbery". Others have suggested that there is class prejudice in recent environmental concerns against working class people's holidays. We are not qualified to comment on how taxation might or might not protect the environment, but we can comment on Ryanair's concern for the interests of ordinary working people.

Percentage of Global Emissions
Ordinary Holidaymakers
Beneficiaries or Victims?

Percentage of Global Emissions

Ryanair notes that "aviation accounts for just 1.6% of global green house gas emissions" (sic). Do they really think that putting the word "just" before the figure makes it small? They also note that power generation accounts for 26%.

Consider the number of activities that use energy and emit greenhouse gases and how many people travel by road, use electricity, have heated homes and workplaces and use manufactured goods every single day, compared with how few people in the world ever fly, and how comparatively rarely they do it, and the figure is astounding.

It's hard to believe that a small proportion of the world's population travelling relatively rarely by air produces more than 6% as much greenhouse gas as the power generation that heats homes, runs heavy industry and produces goods that are used by nearly everyone in the world every day.

It's even harder to believe that anyone thinks this can be disguised by using words like "just" and "only".

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Ordinary Holidaymakers

It is incongruous to hear anyone presenting Ryanair as a champion of ordinary working-class people. Firstly, they are fiercely anti-union, unlike many other low-cost carriers in Europe. See Ryan-Be-Fair.

Secondly, Ryanair is not a benefactor for ordinary working people. Rather, it sees the existence of a large pool of low-paid, ordinary, working people as a source of willing victims who should be prepared to put up with anything.

It's one thing to get what you pay for, but rich people get more than they pay for when a business messes up or when it wants to retain them as a customer. Why should Ryanair customers have to play Russian Roulette with their holiday plans and hard-earned savings just because they are poor? Should Ryanair get away with abandoning them when things go wrong because they are poor and can't expect anything better?

Claiming that attacks on Ryanair are attacks on the holidays of working class people is very much like the claims a few years ago that the Minimum Wage was an attack on working people, because they couldn't get employed at all unless they accepted starvation wages.

We hope that in the longer term Ryanair's passengers will value themselves more than Ryanair does and will make choices that preserve their own self-respect. Ordinary people should be able to have holidays, and they should indeed get what they pay for; they should not have to gamble that they may get nothing or be fleeced.

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Beneficiaries or Victims?

The people tempted to fly with Ryanair are generally poor, without the same travel opportunities as the typical jetsetter. They pay less and expect less, but their lack of choice also makes them vulnerable. How much is Ryanair really helping ordinary working people if, having tempted people with cheap fares

The list could go on, but it seems very unlikely that Ryanair has any interest in helping "ordinary holidaymakers", given the way that it heaps extra charges on them at every turn, particularly when they are helpless.

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