Greenpeace pays travellers to take the train

The full-page advert has a wispy cloud in the shape of a huge two-fingered V-sign - a British handsign that means either victory of something rather ruder. A pair of jetliners zoom into the sky from the tips of each digit. The colour ad in Monday’s Guardian newspaper (one of the UK’s serious dailies) apes those of British Airways promoting its New York services.
So what’s happening here? What’s happening is that environmental lobbyists and activists Greenpeace are having a pop at BA’s new service being launched from London to the southern English seaside resort of Newquay. Their message: Take the train instead, it’s greener than flying.“Starting short-haul domestic routes such as this in today’s climate completely flies in the face of their stated intent to behave in an environmentally responsible manner,” says the ad copy.
And Greenpeace is not simply sounding off at BA, it is offering passengers booked on the inaugural flight a free return train ticket free of charge.
“Change your ticket not the climate,” says Greenpeace.
Monday’s Guardian paper offers a snapshot of how the green issue is pervading British society like few others around the globe. Of the ads in the 40-page paper, four were promoting one green message or another. In contrast easily the most popular ads were for travel. Ryanair, bmibaby, Expedia, flymonarch, a Norwegian travel operator, and P&O Ferries.
This says a lot of how Brits see both issues. Yes, the country’s green conscience is getting stronger, but so is the expectation to travel more frequently and cheaply. It’s a contradiction that will I suspect begin to change travel habits well within the next five years, and possibly even quicker.
Oh and by the way, I’m writing this on the Eurostar in carriage 14 on the way to Paris. Was it an environmental decision to take the train? No, I can’t claim any moral high ground here. The editor can honestly say it was more a hatred of Paris Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow airports that make this short trip a no-brainer for the Eurostar.

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