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The Takeoff of Staying on the Ground

Changing political and personal narratives of aviation, climate, and the good life in Sweden

The takeoff of staying on the ground is funded by the Swedish research council Formas and involves researchers Kimberly Nicholas and Johannes Stripple together with the PhD student Sara Ullström.

Continuation of business as usual trends for aviation are incompatible with meeting national and international commitments to avoid dangerous climate change. Thus, there is an urgent need to better understand options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, including through reducing demand. There is a recent and growing cultural shift in Sweden to avoid flying, by leaders from diverse backgrounds including journalists, politicians, celebrities, and parents, as well as a national flight tax begun in 2018. This research will seize this important moment to document, analyze and evaluate the evolution of the conversations about aviation, climate, and the good life happening in traditional and social media, and their implications for policy and daily life. We will show how these narratives evolved over time, culminating in the ultimately successful adoption of the national flight tax; conduct interviews to understand the arguments, motivations and strategies of key change agents who are leading a rapidly growing trend to voluntarily avoid flying; and connect these political and personal narratives to explore their potential synergies and tradeoffs. Understanding the reasons behind the successful rise of staying on the ground up the social and political agenda in Sweden will both illuminate the often overlooked role of cultural change in meeting climate goals, and make predictions about the potential for replicating these impacts elsewhere.

Swedish title: "Ingen ny tid för avgång: Förändrade politiska och personliga berättelser om flygresande, klimat och det goda livet i Sverige”.