My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Air vs. Overland in CO2 Emissions

All this interest and debate around the issues of climate change and the damaging effects of air travel is really important. Some of you have questions about the facts that I am basing my inspiration on so here are the comparative emissions of air vs. overland based on my journey.

If you have any other queries please check out or other links.

Machynlleth - London:
230 miles, by coach = 20,700 grams CO2

London - Moscow:
1924 miles, by coach = 173,160 grams CO2

Moscow - Beijing:
5772.8 kilometers, by train = 418,528 grams CO2

Beijing - Hanoi:
1710 miles, by train = 198,360 frams CO2

Hanoi - Nougkhai:
400 miles, by bus = 36,000 grams CO2

Nougkhai - Singapore:
1639 miles, by train = 190,124 grams CO2

Singapore - Darwin:
2350 miles, by ship: 285,760 grams CO2

Darwin - Brisbane:
2143 miles, by coach: 192,870 grams CO2

Total: 1,646,232g CO2 = 1.65 tonnes of CO2

This is based on average carbon dioxide emissions for various types of transport:
Grams of carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre:

Rail = 72.5g
Bus/coach = 56.25g
Ferry = 76g

The emissions from a one way flight would be at least 3.7 tonnes of CO2 (see or a more detailed calculation (taking into account the type of aircraft) can be made by and calculates and one way flight would emit 6.1 tonnes of CO2.

The contribution made by transport, especially air travel, to greenhouse gas emissions is growing more evident daily. Air transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases (currently producing 3.5 percent of all greenhouse gases from human sources) and is set to more than double in the next 15 years. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research ( has suggested that it will be impossible for the UK to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets if air travel continues to grow.

The alternatives are to take more holidays closer to home, or take the train or coach. A lot of people wouldn't have the time to do what I’m is doing but its quite easy, for example, to get down to Spain on the train in just over a day.


At 9:15 am, August 22, 2006, Blogger Chris said...

I've just read the doublepage spread in the Independent. I have always avoided flying, only partly through environmental reasons. Mind you, it is criminal that air fuel isn't taxed like fuel for other modes of transport.

My daughter married a really nice guy from Australia, and has recently moved out there, along with her triplet 5 year olds. So I am really interested in your journey, and will maybe follow it one day. If enough people decide to travel that way, perhaps there could become established routes that would make the whole thing more straightforward.

My problem would be that I couldn't take that much time off work at the moment. But perhaps in 2-3 years . . .

I will be following your trips with great interest.

Well done!!!

At 10:57 am, August 22, 2006, Blogger Paul said...

There are also fears that emissions from aircraft at great height may affect cloud formation in the stratosphere, magnifying the global warming effects.

Therefore a straight co2 comparison may not show the whole picture.

At 1:49 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger Matt Sellwood said...

Dear Barbara,

I've just read the Independent as well - good on you, very inspiring story. I work for the Climate Outreach and Information Network - - feel free to pop round if you're ever in Oxford. :)



At 2:38 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger DanDuderino said...

Ms. Haddrill, I am truly proud of you... "walking the talk". You are giving me a "run for my money" and as I travel the world on "G.W.'s dime" I now find myself re-thinking my air travel plans. Thank you. ADD: I would like to donate some of my G.W. BUSH TOILET PAPER to your cause. Please let me know where to send it.
"Cheers Mitey"

-Dan Duderino,
"Makers of G.W. TOILET PAPER"

At 2:49 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger Amanda said...

Barbara, I'm jealous of your trip, really - and the "good cause" aspect is just part of that. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Trans-Siberian, for me it was the experience of a lifetime (see below). But for me the best thing about a journey like this is it gives you time just to be quiet and to be alone with your thoughts, and you're "allowed" to because the purpose of your days is moving along, anything else you do is kind of a bonus. (You can see I'm definitely one of those "it's the journey not the destination" types). Good luck and *enjoy* the trip, really.


First of my series of Trans-Sib articles -

At 4:32 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger Robert van de Walle said...

Babs, folks like you make me proud of the human species. I hope you have a really excellent journey (and you'd better believe I'll be regularly checking in on your progress!)
You're doing a very important thing, showing us we can stay connected to each other while impacting the earth less.
Stories like yours motivate me to keep moving forward in my own journey towards sustainability.

At 4:38 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger Robert van de Walle said...

By the way, for all of us stay-at-homes, follow along with my efforts to green my life at my blog,
Home of the Future

At 4:40 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger Fleur said...

Dear Babs

Good for you - I think this is a fantastic venture that highlights a critical issue

We have included a news piece on our site here

Pop by and pay us a visit

Have a wonderful journey, all the best

At 4:52 pm, August 22, 2006, Blogger Hele said...

Hey Babs! Just wanted to wish you all the best for your trip. Sorry I missed you before you left Mach. Think it's great that your quest is inspiring this much comment and coverage. I think you will have quite an amazing adventure. I can understand your apprehension but I reckon once 1st September comes you'll just get on with it as you would anything else! Good luck, not that I think you need it - there are plenty of people out there who will help you on your way...

PS. Did a dingo eat your passport?

At 2:03 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger June Bell said...

Babs, you rock!

At 2:04 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger June Bell said...

Babs, you rock!

At 7:43 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger Dave Sag said...

A commendable effort and well intentioned, and I am sure it will be a thrilling journey. But honestly why not just buy carbon credits to offset your flight? Then you are effectively travelling at zero environmental cost, for only a hundred or so pounds more.

At 11:13 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger miss_shrek said...

Hello, my name is Cathleen I am from Germany and I read your article in "the Independent" yesterday. I find it really interesting that you are going to Australia without a plane. But I think for women it`s quite dangerous to travel alone through Russian and China by bus and train. Futhermore, you need a lot of time to travel by bus , boat and train. It isn`t usual that people have so much time. Moreover, I guess it isn`t practical for a large group to travel in this style. Finally, I find the article to be very useful because people will wake up and start thinking about enviromental problems.

At 11:18 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger Korean said...

My name is Jin from Korea. I've been stuying in Oxford for about 5 months, and I read your article in the Independent yesterday. It was very interesting.
I appriciate your atrempt, but I was wondering whether it is practical. By reading the article, some people could be inspired doing what you are doing. Possibly, it might be for fun rather than consider the environment.
If I had a chance to have such a long journey, I would like to follow you. However, it's not to happen more than once in my all life. Because it will take plenty of time and money.
It's just my opinion to the obove mentioned.
I wish every success in your future.



At 11:20 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger Frank said...

I am currently doing this the other way around. Although Im more interested in the adventure of it than emmisions. Just to let you know your definately not alone.

An alternative suggestion(its good to have alternatives as things dont always go as you expect):

You can travel by bus train and boat from singapore through indonesia. If you get to Timor (East or West, there are flights from Dili and Kupang) you can get a plane to Darwin. These planes are not Jets they are propellor driven and it is a short flight to darwin where you can bus to Brisbane.
Im not sure what the emmisions of prop aircraft are compared to Jets but it could be worth checking out if you need another way.


At 11:26 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger FBI_wol said...

Hi I am Fabian from Germany and I am going to study aeronautic engineering.
I read your article yesterday in The Independent and my first thought was, "you can't be serious". So I read the article carefully and thought about it. I have to say I agree with you, that we have to do something to reduce the pollution and to fight the destruction of our planet. But I think not to travel by plane is the wrong way. If these figures are proved, you haven't calculated, that when more people will use this opportunity to travel so far you have to multiply your figures because a plane takes about 240 people and a coach about 60. And if there are more people which want to travel by coach, you have to produce new coaches which will cause new pollution. And as you sure know, environmental-friendly articles are more expensive than the others and if you spend so much money on such an expensive trip, you will have to buy cheaper products, which are not really environmentally friendly.
I think a better way would be to fly on the planes and spend, that money which you pay more for your trip, to make planes more environmentally friendly, that we don't have to go back in progress.
Think about the emission of cars 50 years ago and what progress we have had until now. It is still not perfect, but I think with the hybrid engines we have already made a big step forward and I think we are going to get something like that for planes.
I promise I will work on it.


At 11:26 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger hiller7 said...

hello barbara,
my name is xu ke .i am from china.
i'm really happy to read the newspaper about your idea to protect the environment.Obviously your action has influenced us and even people all around the world ,
and make us notice more .
I feel repectful about your are brave and you use your way to show your dedication to the task .
but i think there is a balance between the way by overland and by air.a number of people go their ways by overland .but there are
still a number of people who go somewhereby air .if the balance was destroyed ,the environment would become much worse than before .
on the other hand ,i think maybe the plane is better .because it can help you to save time .it means it saves time for better things . you can use this time to plant more trees ,can't you ?i suggest inventing a new kind of aircraft .there are a lot of advangtages with this new machine(less time,less petrol,less air pollution.
at last i just want to say thanks for your attention.because of you many people have started to think about better ways to control global warming and protect the environment!!!!!!!!!

At 11:46 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger miss_shrek said...

Hello, barbara.i have read your blog on the internet about your epic journey. and i am also an enveronmentalist and i agree with your idea of protecting enveronment. and also your courage which to go travelling by boats, train and coaches instead of by palne shoud be also use your experiment to reduce the planes pollution are much more than any other means of you make the public realize that the environment stuation is so urgent but personally, i think if we want to protect the enveriment in this way ,we will waste lots of time and it will also cause traffic we know ,a plane can carry many more people than bus and boats.and thats more convenient. if we give up using planes,we will go back 50years.everything has two sides,we cant just see the disadvantages of planes and give up using also has advantages.futher more,we can protect the environment in many other ways which are more practical.

At 11:48 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger Heejung said...

Hello, it's Heejung from South Korea.

I read your article in the Independent, because my English teacher gave us the paper and asked us to read them through, also, debate them.

Actually, i was the opposite of you yesterday. I thought there was just a few planet- friendly poeple for the environment, so you couldn't change the world. Although you care about the environment and take train instead of the airplane, almost all of the people will be using an airplane and airplane companies will give them service in the future as well. Also, I thought doing like you is not very efficient, and you will just waste your time.

amazingly, today I'm thinking that you are a very influencial person. Fortunately, you got into a famous newspaper this time, which you will effectthe whole world.

Last night was when I thought the power of "one".
...So if I join you, the power will be stronger, won't it?

Briefly speaking, you convinced me to pay attention to you and "Environment". It means I don't think you are so strange any more, also, I want to do something seem a little bit crazy like you!

Expect me. +_+
Let's make people environmental!

also, I'll pray for you.


At 11:51 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger la_petite_marion said...

My name is Marion,I'm from France and I read your article in The Independant yesterday.
First of all, I must confess that I'm still not really convinced about the pollution rates you gave.I would believe the way you are going to go in order to be a bridesmaid is really less polluting than the plane's way.I would believe you if it was published by a less biased organisation(i.e. scientific journal),then I have to congratulate you ,your patience and your courage.
Inspite of this, I actually totally agree with you.what you are doing is an example.Your plan has been published and this publication could be effective.Indeed, more than just an exhausting journey, more than an odd choice(unfortunately your choice appeared for most of the people I spoke to like a waste of time and money)your trip points out the actual situation,this article is a way to call the pollution's issue to question.People are not aware enough.
In France,especially Southern France(where I live)we are expeciencing a severe drought,although my neighboors keep washing their car every two days!(it makes me sick!).
But this is only a tiny example of human mistakes.
I don't want to keep rambling on because I feel powerless.
To conclude I would only encourage you.Seeing effort from people motivated like you comforts me and makes me hope the situation could change.
So thank you,carry on,and have a nice wedding party!

At 11:58 am, August 23, 2006, Blogger Graf_Dracula said...

Hay I'm Tomasz
I've already read your article in the Independent during my English class. I was suprised that young women could live a caravan. It seems to be very uncomfortable. When I first saw the title in the newspaper I thought you could be mad. However on 2nd thought I was able to understand that you want to underline an important problem and you probablly want to change people's mind. most people don't realise enaugh about enviromental problems. They only exploit The Earth without reflection.
Let me ask you some questions. Is your trip too dangerous for you. Isn't it? Are you having a lat of good expeeriencees? I would like convince you that maybe you should set up a special organisation to help peple travel long distances safelly and easily.
Good journey. Tomasz

At 12:03 pm, August 23, 2006, Blogger marie said...

I'm an English-student in Oxford and yesterday our teacher brought in class the article published in the "Independent" of your plan, so we have read it and discussed afterwards the advantages and disadvantages of your trip. In our class there are students from all over the world and many people from far-away countries like Japan, South-Korea, China argued it would be very impratical for them if they had to travel by trains, busses, ships instead of by airplane. Here is an important point, I think, because it reveals that there is an important difference between short- and long-distance journeys and another point to consider is the goal of the jouney and the circumstances. So, on the one hand, if you need to move quickly over a long distance because you are going to another part of the world in order to study or to close a deal or to offer assistance and help, f.e. if there has been a natural catastrophe somewhere, I can't disagree with people who hop on an aircraft.
On the other hand I appreciate very much your gesture as an attempt to increase our awareness of environmental questions. I interpret it as an invitation to think over our life-style and our behaviour in every little things and to use travel-alternatives like trains where they still exist (not USA!).
Somebody might argue that your plan looks like a proposal for a return back in time but I think this is not the point. The point is rather to finally raise necessary- to-life- (and to survive)questions like: Why does traveling by air cost less than the more environmental-friendly traveling by train? Why don't the governments support a more sustainable traffic-politics?
Unfortunately, the majority looks only at the costs and the time, because we are all prisoners of the spirit of this time and are all following more or less voluntarily the mainstream which is predicting "faster-further-cheaper". This was once only the ideal of the economy - to produce more things in less time and in the cheapest way - now it has permeated our whole life. That's why actions like yours are more important than they have ever been! Good luck!

At 12:08 pm, August 23, 2006, Blogger Andreas said...

Just a quick additional comment. I remember a television series some years ago, where the former Monty Python star Michale Palin went "Around the World in 80 Days" without flying of course. So he was mainly using rail and ship. This is his website containing some information about his travels:


At 12:36 pm, August 23, 2006, Blogger Ys said...

Hello.I'm studing English in UK. I read your article in The Independent yesterday. It has made me things. I want to write one of them. If many people use airplanes,airline companies can get a lot of revenue. Airline companies might use thier money for invention. you can ride a new airplane which uses less petorol,convey more people after someone invents new palanes. It's good for envirment in the long term. What do you think about this?
I think you are a great woman because you provoke people to argue and debate. It's amazing that I,a Japanese student,write on your Blog from UK!! I know your challenge is very hard,but do your best and start more debates around the world!!

At 7:22 pm, August 23, 2006, Blogger steveestir said...

hey babs,

long time no see,

you got a mention on xfm yesterday while i was working on my next bike.

me and the missus were talking about Oz (will n rosie) and carbon emmissions just the other day.
bit of a shocking coincidence.

best of luck mate, sure it will be a great adventure - hope the wedding goes to plan (and you are not late!)

take care out there.


At 9:10 pm, August 23, 2006, Blogger Simba said...

Nice article and great environmental awareness raising. Good luck and more importantly have fun!

From a greenish but trying to be more green person. :)

At 9:25 pm, August 23, 2006, Blogger McKinley said...

The only concern I have is how this trip will minimize CO2 emissions.

Essentially the plane flight will take off with or without you, as will the bus, boat and train. Meaning that there is absolutely no reduction in any emissions.

Any non GHG effects in the atmosphere are essetially transient and have minimal effect on climate change.

So how is it that your travels will minimize CO2 when that plane is leaving with or without you?

At 9:34 pm, August 26, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

A flight has roughly 2.25 more C02 emissions according to the stats posted here.

But, just thinking here, wouldn't a large plane used to go from the UK to Australia have more than 2.25 times the people on the bus?

At 5:09 pm, August 30, 2006, Blogger Gaby Kittner said...

Dear Babs,
I heard about your trip in just a few sentences on the German televison last week and found this blog today. Great idea! I'm a true believer/user in/of public transport but did never think about an alternatief way of travelling to NZ.
I wish you lost of luck and pleasure on your trip. Probably your trip will give me enough information for following your example.

At 5:11 am, November 07, 2006, Blogger thronger said...

Barbara - I have learnt about your journey and believe it would be cracking fun - and I want to do it now. Fantastic effort.
Are you able to send me the bus/train/ferry company details so I canbook my trip next October? It would be much appreicated.

At 5:14 am, November 07, 2006, Blogger thronger said...

Barbara - I have learnt about your journey and believe it would be cracking fun - and I want to do it now. Fantastic effort.Are you able to send me the bus/train/ferry company details so I can book my trip next October? It would be much appreicated.


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