Green club takes on air travel

A PIONEERING green initiative is ready to take off in York – a new club where members pledge to give up air travel for a year to combat global warming.

Instead of building up your air miles to gain passenger perks, the No Miles High Club is being targeted at those who care about reducing carbon emissions enough to ground themselves.

Organisers say that while many of us have got the message that running a gas-guzzling car is environmentally wrong we fail to realise the huge impact that the aviation industry is having.

The organisation will be launched on January 27 with the inaugural event where new members can sign up taking place in Pivo Caf Bar on Patrick Pool in central York at 8pm.

The group is being funded by the Pollution Tax Association, a York-based organisation which collects a voluntary pollution tax from its members and gives the money away to charities involved in tackling climate change in the Third World

One of the founders Richard Lane explained yesterday: "Instead of rewarding your air miles, this is a club for those who care about their carbon footprint enough to give up flying altogether.

"Drinks are free for anyone who's not flown for the previous year, and members signing up will enter a draw to win Eurostar tickets. To join, all you need to do is promise not to take any flights for a year."

Obviously, the club officials will have no way of checking up on members who decide to enjoy the benefits of the organisation while still booking seats with the airlines.

Mr Lane added: " Membership works basically on honesty, but there is also a signed declaration, which is a contract pledging not to fly for a year."

He said the club was the result of a group of York-based campaigners wanting to provide more incentives for ethical lifestyles.

"A growing number of people are recognising that the growth in cheap flights is having a huge impact on our environment, and they are choosing to do without it," he continued.

"A lot of people think 'everyone else is taking flights all over the world, why shouldn't I?' It helps when you realise you're not alone. And it helps even more if you get a free drink, or a discount, or a train trip to the continent."

Protests such as this year's Climate Camp at Heathrow Airport showed the increasing focus on aviation amid fears the the "Credit Crunch" will lead to travel agents offering even more bargain holidays this year.

Mr Lane said: "We need to get used to flying less. We need people to become aware that flying off on holiday or business trips three times a year is just as ugly and inconsiderate as owning a 4x4."

Members will receive invitations to future promotions and events arranged at supporting venues, as well as a "no planes bonus" for a year flight-free. The NMHC hopes to arrange discounts for members with local and environmentally-respectable businesses.

"For anyone who's ever thought about their carbon footprint, the No Miles High Club is the perfect New Year's resolution. Don't give up on the alcohol or chocolate. Give up the carbon. That's how you can really make a difference in 2008," Mr Lane added.