Niels Benedikter

Blog with news and info pieces on climate topics.

Climate Change and Global Inequality

"We've got the car only because we've forced others to go by foot. And with bloody violence. The knowledge of extreme inequality - that others don't have potable water while we are planing our next holiday - everyone has that. We are blaming it on politics, 'the system', or if nothing else on the weather. Because in reality it is unbearable, that billions of people suffer for us. One should at least conclude: I'm never going to fly again from Munich to Cologne. But instead of undertaking a train journey we say: 'The plane is flying anyway'. Nobody changes her behaviour, because all the others don't do it either. Therefore the state should prohibit it or at least tax it highly. (..)

And due to migration, at some point we can only keep the consequences of the externalization away from us by force. (..)"
"Many people in Africa do no longer want to watch us in the North throwing parties at their expense. Many do no longer want to accept that they are second class by birth. They want to party along (..). The Europeans don't want to hear. (..) No voters for parties that want to have speed limits on highways or forbid EasyJet weekends in Barcelona."

"Instead of coffee capsules there has been fair-trade coffee for a long time. It has a market share of about 3%. Ethical consumption is not common enough, but it also wouldn't make for a significant difference. We need completely different consumption structures here. We have to drink less coffee and juice, also eat less meat. We have to go without many things on a large scale to permit other societies to develop."

(Translated from Stephan Lessenich: Es geht uns zu gut and Der Freitag: Das Ende der Party.)

The Bill (4 minutes on Youtube).

Your Contribution: Air Travel

For our climate, it doesn't matter much whether you separate your trash more carefully every year or buy your muesli in a paper bag instead of a plastic bag: with one intercontinental flight or four domestic flights a year, you ruin all your ecological efforts.

"Aviation emissions are projected to consume approximately a quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budget by 2050." (Climate Nexus)

Gramms of CO2-equivalent per person and km, calculated at average occupancies:

Airplane: 200 g/Pkm
Car: 140 g/Pkm
Train and Bus: 25 g/Pkm

"In 2015, an average Swiss citizen travelled 9000km by plane, emitting approximately 3 tons of carbon dioxide. That is as much as an average Swiss citizen emitts for all other means of transportation (including driving a car), plus the emissions for heating the flat, plus production of electricity, plus warm water together." (Der Bund)

Avoid and Compensate Emissions!

Avoid emissions: Why not start by taking at least one or two of your longer trips every year by train or night train instead of by airplane?
And you could plan a holiday in Italy or Croatia instead of Indonesia for next summer - there are excellent night trains to Rome, Venice, Zagreb (see the list below) or extremely fast TGVs to France and Spain!

Compensate your emissions: I propose that you compensate the equivalent of your annual base emissions (ca. 10-20 tons of CO2 per year as a person with Western lifestyle) by removing emission rights from the European Union Emissions Trading System via The Compensators.
The prize has collapsed some years ago and is now at 5 Euro per ton of CO2. And if you really can't avoid flying: Since this prize is far below the long-term sustainable prize (30-50 Euro/ton), I suggest to additionally compensate your flights by long-term emission-reducing development projects via Atmosfair or MyClimate.

Avoid the Rebound Effect: "that if one compensates, then one flies even more". Avoid this psychological trap!

Compensation might sound easy and comfortable. But don't forget: only about 5% of the world population has ever flown. Isn't it cynical that CO2-compensation offers us to compensate the effects of our life style by reducing emissions in much poorer countries?

But then... what can we really do? Follow the principle: first avoid – only then compensate – and speak out. Below are some ideas on how to organize your mobility in a climate-friendly way.

  • Choose your destinations such that you avoid flying. Plan your holiday on your home continent. If you travel far, travel by train and make it part of the experience. Bundle your trips: instead of two weekend visits to friends, go for one longer visit. Bundle your big bussiness trip with your main annual holiday.
  • Use the train even if it might be more
    expensive The prize must never be the deciding factor, even if flying is occasionally cheaper!
    Often flying is in fact not cheaper, even if the airlines make us believe it. Anyway, if we can spend 10€ on a drink, we can also spend 10€ on our environment.
    or take
    longer Maybe our environment is worth some minutes of our time?
    Even if you already took into account the time for printing the boarding pass, going to the airport, waiting at security, waiting at the gate, boarding 20min before departure etc.: On the train you can work during the whole trip, whereas all the time in security checks and walking around the airport is lost.
    than flying!
    Even though night trains are becoming rarer in Europe, they are still a great option for comfortable climate-friendly trips. Check out the list below; on some connections you can even bring your car along on holiday.
  • Always check railway connections first! Break the habit of looking for flights directly.
  • Maybe your CO2-compensation could be a motivation to also do the world a favour beyond the climate, e.g. through Médecins Sans Frontières, Breaking The Silence (Shovrim Shtika), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Terre des hommes, Yesh Din, PanEco, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, GiveWell, Evidence Action, B’Tselem...
  • Support political initiatives for climate protection. Discuss and speak out!

Not of the magnitude of a transatlantic flight, but of course there are a few other significant contributions on which you personally have an influence:

  • Do not commute by car.
  • Change to a provider of 'green' electricity.
  • Improve the heat insulation of your home and install a modern heating system.
  • Reduce your meat consumption:
    • Livestock accounts for ca. 18% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. For example, producing pork creates over 30 times as much emissions as the same amount of potatoes. An ecological diet can reduce your emissions by 300kg (low-meat diet) or even 600kg (organic vegan diet) of CO2 (and is also healthier).
    • If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef: "If every American made one dietary change: substituting beans for beef—even if nothing about our energy infrastructure or transportation system changed, even if people kept eating chicken and pork and eggs and cheese—this change could achieve 46-74% of the reductions needed to meet the US' 2020 Paris agreement target."
  • Beyond your unavoidable flights and your base emissions, you can also compensate emissions due to events you organize (e.g. conferences, weddings, concerts...)!
  • Maybe everything else (your re-usable coffee cup etc.) is of infinitesimal use.

Should you do something? Isn't the plane flying anyway? Don't we need institutional solutions? We do! But nevertheless:

  • John Nolt: How Harmful Are the Average American's Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
    Ethics, Policy & Environment Vol. 14, Issue 1, 2011.
    doi: 10.1080/21550085.2011.561584

    "It has sometimes been claimed (..) that the harm caused by an individual's participation in a greenhouse-gas-intensive economy is negligible. (..) this paper attempts to estimate the harm done by an average American. (..) the average American is responsible, through his/her greenhouse gas emissions, for the suffering and/or deaths of one or two future people."

  • Anne Schwenkenbecher: Is there an obligation to reduce one's individual carbon footprint?
    Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy Vol. 17, Issue 2, 2014.
    doi: 10.1080/13698230.2012.692984

    "This paper focuses on the question of whether individuals (..) have duties to reduce their individual carbon footprint. To this end it will examine three kinds of arguments that have been brought forward against individuals having such duties: the view that individual emissions cause no harm; the view that individual mitigation efforts would have no morally significant effect; and the view that lifestyle changes would be overly-demanding. The paper shows how all three arguments fail to convince."

Background & Politics

Politics doesn't really care about climate-friendly mobility: E.g. in Germany

  • airlines don't pay VAT, whereas train tickets contain the full 19%
  • airlines don't pay kerosene tax, whereas railway operators pay full energy taxes
  • many small airports are unprofitable and heavily subsidised (for the purpose of offering cheap holiday flights with RyanAir?).

All in all, German society subsidises airlines with annually ca. 10.5 Billion €! Furthermore

  • politics doesn't manage to push a unified European train booking system
  • night trains become unprofitable due to high fees in the rail network
  • hotels pay 7% VAT, whereas night trains pay 19%
  • most crazily: according to the Kyoto protocol (and subsequent international agreements), air travel is not added to any states emission tables, so states do not have any motivation in reducing air travel.

The emissions of global air travel are growing at around 8% per year, while railway services continue to be cut!
From 2010 to 2015, the average number of flights per person in Europe has increased by 43%. Since also the distance per trip has increased, European air travel in that time increased by 57%! And Europe wants to become "green" simply by switching to renewable production of electricity?
And the lobby of the aviation industry is very effective in preventing the introduction of emission regulations - knowing that within the next 20-30 years there is no technology for climate-neutral air travel, only the alternative of railways!

Political initiatives:

Find out about your personal contributions:

  • How many trees to compensate your emissions? Every European needs about 1000m2 of forest to continually balance his/her emissions. Or 240 trees for one year to compensate a single round trip flight from Europe to North America.
  • How many slaves work for you? Find out about your slavery foot print. Electronic devices, clothes, furniture, mobility? Not only do your consumption and your life style damage the climate, but they are also based on slave work - 20 to 60 slaves for every European.
  • Calculate your personal climate gas emissions. If you fly often, you can easily double (or even triple) it.

Background information and facts:

How many gigatons of CO2 more can we safely release?
In February 2016, we had 8 years left before breaking the limit of max. 2°C global warming.
Two years earlier, in April 2014, we had 17 years left!

How to find (Night) Train Connections and Cheap Tickets

Information on general rail travel:

  • The Man in Seat Sixty-One: the most-complete train travel guide for anywhere in the world
  • Trainline: looks for the cheapest tickets by combining and comparing offers from different European ticketing agencies; you might save more than 70%. Includes also many night trains! (Loco2 offers a similar service.)
  • Rome2rio: Compare all means of transportation (flights, trains, ferries, buses, night trains...) between any two places on the world.
  • Interrail: the classic - by train and ferry to Greece, Turkey, Ireland, Gibraltar... (non-European residents can get a Eurail pass instead: Eurail)

Below you can find a (incomplete) list of night trains operating in Europe:

  • Swedish Railways and Norwegian Railways operate night trains in Scandinavia, which are convenient to reach hiking destinations in the summer and wintersport destinations far north.
  • Schnee-Express: www.schnee-express.com
    Night trains from Northern Germany to Ski Areas in the Alps (running in the Winter)
  • Alpen Express Oostenrijk: www.treinreiswinkel.nl
    Night train from the Netherlands to Austrian Ski Areas
  • Train4You Urlaubs-Express: www.urlaubs-express.de
    Night train with car transportation between Hamburg and Lörrach (near Basel), Verona, Villach, Munich (seasonal)
  • MSM party trains: www.msm-gruppe.de
    Party trains for special events: Carneval in Cologne, Oktoberfest in Munich, the beach in Norderney.
  • Berlin-Malmö-Express: www.berlin-night-express.com
    Night train from Northern Germany to Sweden (in the summer and on selected holidays).
    The company Snälltåget operates also a night train from Malmö to the ski resorts in Åre/Duved on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the ski season.
  • BTE-Autoreisezug: www.bahntouristikexpress.de
    Night train with car transportation on the line Lörrach (near Basel) to Hamburg (all year round, but not daily)
  • Flixtrain: www.flixtrain.de
    Offers a night train connection from Lörrach and Freiburg to Hamburg. Does not run on all days. Very attractive ticket prices.
    Flixtrain also offers attracttive prices on their day trains (Berlin-Stuttgart and Hamburg-Cologne, to be extended).
  • Euro-Express Autozug: www.ee-autozug.com
    Night trains with car transportation from Germany to Italy
  • RZD: Moscow-Berlin-Paris and Nice-Vienna-Moscow
    Luxury hotel train three times per week. RZD offers also fast Talgos from Berlin to Moscow. And of course the Transsiberian.
  • ÖBB Nightjet: www.nightjet.com
    The biggest European night train network; daily regular services, also with car transportation on selected connections.
  • Optima Express www.optimatours.de: night train with car and motorcycle transportation from Villach (Austria) to Edirne (Turkey, near Istanbul), seasonal.
  • Many state railways in Eastern Europe still operate very good night trains. See the itineraries below for some examples (to Croatia, Hungary, Poland...) and check Seat61, Rome2Rio or the DB information system (which can show most trains, even though it cannot sell all the tickets online--tickets can nevertheless be booked at DB offices in German railway stations or by phone).
  • Check out also the lists of night trains collected by Interrail and by Back On Track. Another long list can be found on www.reisen-mit-der-eisenbahn.de, where you also find a description of night train comfort, and you can ask for hints and help with bookings ("Tickethelfer") in German.
Experiences & Recommended Railway Itineraries

Below you can find some tested itineraries as examples that long-distance connections by train in Europe is a serious option. I recommend the sleeper car (Schlafwagen), which has real beds, fresh towels and a hand basin. Couchette (Liegewagen) is also ok, but I recommend to book occupation with 4 persons, not 6, to have more luggage space and better air. In couchette class better take a lower bed, the upper beds are sometimes too short for people taller than 1.80m. Earplugs can be useful. Both sleeper car and couchette have complimentary breakfast. If you're on a budget, you can get extremely good prizes if you are willing to travel seated. See rail.cc for fotos and descriptions (and information on connections and tickets) of the travelling experience on an ÖBB NightJet.

In the last four years I have completely avoided all flights within Europe. On average, I travel around 20000km every year by train and big parts of that on night trains - it is possible and surprisingly easy. On all my night train trips I never missed a connection. And travelling by night train can be enjoyable - I had many interesting conversations with fellow travellers, also people that I would never have expected to meet otherwise.

"That's too much effort. I already do enough, I had a fair-trade coffee last week." Hypocrite!

  • Vienna - London - Plymouth and return:

    The following connection works well, with safe connections and high comfort: Vienna Hbf 20:41 - Cologne Hbf 8:15 (+1 day) by Nightjet NJ 40490, Cologne Hbf 9:43 - Bruxelles Midi 11:35 by ICE 214, Bruxelles Midi 12:52 - London St. Pancras International 14:05 by Eurostar EST 9133. You have time to step outside Cologne main station and take a look at the impressive cathedral of Cologne, and there are many options for waiting with coffee and a second breakfast in the station. In Bruxelles I can recommend a quick lunch with Belgian beer at 'La Brasserie de la Gare' just across the street from the main entrance of the station (tell them that you have a train to catch to get express service). Remember that you have to go through a security and passport check before boarding the Eurostar, for which you should plan 45 minutes to be on the safe side. The Eurostar departure terminal is easy to find in the main hall of Bruxelles Midi (it's called Bruxelles-Midi Eurostar, but it is just a particular platform inside the station of Bruxelles Midi).
    For the return trip, take the following connection: London St. Pancras International 15:04 - Bruxelles Midi 18:05 by Eurostart EST 9140, Bruxelles Midi 18:25 - Cologne Hbf 20:15 by ICE 19, Cologne Hbf 21:21 - Vienna Hbf 8:19 (+1 day) by Nightjet NJ 40421. Remember to be at St. Pancras 45 minutes in advance to go through security and passport check.
    A word on tickets: for Cologne-London try to get a Sparpreis-Europa ticket from Deutsche Bahn, for the Nightjet compare prizes of Deutsche Bahn and Austrian Railways.
    From London you can reach almost all destinations in the UK by train, see Seat 61. We continued to Plymouth for camping in beautiful Cornwall. But it is better to plan in an overnight stay in London each way - trains in the Uk are notoriously late.
    For more information on the Eurostar (including the short cut for changing platform when coming from London), see Seat 61.

  • Copenhagen - Zurich and return:

    Board the EC to Hamburg Hbf in Noerreport st around 15:27. For a short stretch the train is loaded on a ferry. Bring a dinner or have dinner on the ferry. In Hamburg, change directly to the ÖBB Nightjet to Zurich (if the EC is delayed, talk to the conductor, he can request the night train to wait a bit).
    (A convenient dinner option near Hamburg main station is "BetterBurgerCompany", with organic or vegetarian burgers.)
    On the return trip, board the Nightjet in Zurich at 20:00. Next morning at Hamburg Hbf you have enough time to buy a coffee and take a little walk to the Binnenalster while waiting for the ICE to Copenhagen. Bring a lunch on the train (there are plenty of shopping options in Hamburg main station) or have lunch on the ferry, then arrive at Noerreport st or Københavns Hovedbanegård in Copenhagen.
    Check prizes on DB.de and OEBB.at, it might be cheaper to take separate tickets for Copenhagen-Hamburg and Hamburg-Zurich.
    As a side remark: the train goes through Berlin, so it is also a convenient option for getting from Switzerland to Berlin.

  • Brixen/Bressanone - Copenhagen:

    Take the EC from Brixen to Munich at 19:04. In Munich Hbf you have time to change to the ÖBB Nighjet going to Hamburg; from there on it is the same connection as in the previous example.

  • Stuttgart - Copenhagen and return:

    The CNL via Stuttgart does not exist anymore. But a better option has come up as follows: take a late ICE from Stuttgart to Mannheim, in Mannheim take the ÖBB Nightjet towards Hamburg (departs around midnight), and from Hamburg take the ICE or EC directly to Copenhagen. It might be preferable to buy the night train ticket separately from ÖBB.
    Alternatively, take a day train - it's a long trip (about 12h30), but requires only one change (in Hamburg), and it is extremely cheap (around 35 Euro including a seat reservation). On the ICE you can also have breakfast/lunch/dinner of acceptable quality and price.
    The return trip Copenhagen - Stuttgart is reasonable only by day train. Expect to leave Copenhagen around 11:30 in the morning and arrive in Stuttgart around 22:50.

  • Zurich - Vienna:

    This is 7:50 hours with the railjet during the day, with a beautiful mountain landscape. Alternatively with the Euronight, departing from Zurich 21:40. The ÖBB train is very modern but bed rooms are rather small - if you don't know who's travelling with you I'd take the single occupation. (I was lucky, booked double occupation but didn't have a room mate.) An alcoholic welcome drink and snack and a la carte breakfast are included. This connection sells out quickly, I just had to make a booking two weeks in advance and the train was almost full already!

  • Loop through Norway and Sweden in February:

    Copenhagen - Oslo by nightbus nettbuss.se (when I tried it: ordinary coach and 1 hour delay, but almost empty, so you can stretch out where you want - not much sleeping, but extremely cheap). Oslo - Trondheim by direct train (my scheduled departure was 2h after the scheduled bus arrival) - the landscape is grandios and the train is cozy with a good bistro with two panorama windows and cheap coffee refill. (Alternatively there is also a night train from Oslo to Trondheim. Or to do the first two legs of the trip in one: A faster way of getting from Copenhagen to Trondheim is by taking the Snälltåget ski night train Malmö to Åre/Duved, from where it is only 3 hours by train to Trondheim.) Trondheim - Tromsø with Hurtigruten post ship, 2 days on a very comfortable ship along a fantastic coast, in the winter affordable and with only few people on board. (12Euro+50% emission compensation.) Tromsø - Kiruna first with Bus Line 100 (no reservation possible and normally not necessary, buy ticket directly from driver with credit card) to Narvik (we arrived perfectly on time) and from there by train to Kiruna (there are only 2 trains per day, the earlier one has a direct connection with the bus; the later one has more buffer time but then it might be too dark already to see the impressive landscape). Kiruna - Copenhagen: my longest train trip ever (1900km): I booked from SJ the following: Kiruna - Boden, ordinary IC train. (In Boden 30min break, I bought a pizza in the main street.) Boden - Stockholm on the night train (I shared a 3-person compartment; this night train still has a restaurant where you can also hang out if you don't want to go to sleep yet). Next morning 1:16h break for a walk in Stockholm and then on X2000 train (with coffee flatrate) to Copenhagen.
    Don't forget to watch our for Northern Lights. And try dog sledding.

  • Zurich - Marseille:

    This can be as fast as 6:12h via Basel. I chose however a longer connection: I took the TGV to Paris, brought my picknic to the square in front of Notre Dame, and after lunch continued to Gare de Lyon, from where the TGV does the 800km to Marseille in 3:22h through the nice landscape of southern France.

  • Zagreb - Zurich:

    A great journey through the Slovenian alps! The EuroNight leaves Zagreb at 18:38. There is no restaurant on board, but you can have an early dinner in Zagreb or bring a picknick. The sleeper cars are very modern and spacious. The train also has couchettes and ordinary cars, which come from Beograde and are coupled to the sleeper cars in Zagreb. You'll receive a bottle of water in the evening and a breakfast in your sleeper compartment in the morning. Booking is a bit of a hazzle since there are no online tickets, but you can book with any European travel agency or station counter. Verified ways of booking: by phone with DB in Germany, at the SBB counter in Zurich (+10CHF service fee) or on www.sbb.ch (ticket will be sent by post; it seems that the discounted tickets starting from EUR 59 are not sold online, only by phone and at the station; it's worth asking for availability on the phone first). We paid the non-discounted CHF 256 for two travellers with Bahncard 25/Halbtax in sleeper compartment. I read that you should now also be able to book on OEBB.at.

  • Stuttgart - Rome:

    Take the ICE from Stuttgart to Munich (leaves around 18:23 most days). In Munich change into the ÖBB Nightjet to Rome, next morning you have time for an extended breakfast while watching the beautiful Italian landscape (watch our for the impressive city of Orvieto ontop of the cliffs!); arrive in the center of Rome at the unbeatable hour 9:22. (And remember that you just saved at least EUR 80 of an extra hotel night.)
    Here is a trip proposal that I tested some years ago: By bike from Germany along the Rhine into the Alps, over the Splügen Pass (2,115m), along Lago di Como, through Pisa and then along the coast to Rome. Return trip by night train, simply the inverse of the described connection.

  • Rome/Milano - Split:

    Trenitalia has modern direct trains to Ancona, the fastest taking 3h24 from Rome or 2h59 from Milano. During the first part of the trip from Rome the train is quite full, 1st class is worth the investment and not much more expensive. No gastronomical service on the train (not even water bottles are sold). Landscape is beautiful, coast to coast through the Italian mountains and tiny villages. Plan in a few hours so that you can explore the harbour of Ancona, climb on the hilltop and buy some food.
    In Ancona, there are ferries to many Croatian towns, choose e.g. from Rome2Rio. For us the cheapest option was BlueLine Ferries (services are seasonal and not every day). A 2-berth cabin is cheap, has a private bath room with shower and one can sleep very well. You can have dinner on the ferry, but it didn't look that attractive. Before boarding, you have to go to a counter (a short bus ride, bus departs in front of the station) and get a boarding pass. Don't forget your ID card!

  • Rome - Zurich:

    Unfortunately there is no night train on this connection anymore. The trip takes in the best case 6:46 hours. You start with Trenitalia's Frecciarossa or with the Italo to Milano. The trip takes approximately three hours with both companies and comfort is high in both. Long stretches are travelled at 300km/h, the average speed on the 600km distance being around 200km/h!
    In Milano, change to an SBB-train to Zurich (through the longest and deepest tunnel in the world, the Gotthard Base Tunnel)!

  • Stuttgart - Siofok (at the Balaton):

    It's quite a long time since I've done this trip... take the ICE at 20:23 from Stuttgart to Munich, in Munich change to the EuroNight to Budapest-Keleti but get out at Kelenföld, from there take the loal train to Siofok. That was quite an adventure in 2004: the EuroNight was a nice train, but the local train was really crappy. The ticket to Kelenföld can be bought online from DB; in 2004 it was possible to buy the complete trip from a DB office.
    It might be cheaper to buy tickets from the Hungarian railways MAV, but be warned: Seat61 claims that there is no way you can collect your tickets if you are not already in Budapest...

  • Copenhagen - Trieste:

    Leave Copenhagen with the EuroCity at 11:37, arrive in Hamburg at 16:22. Then take the ICE to Munich at 17:01, arrive in Munich at 23:14 (possibly have dinner on board in the ICE restaurant). Continue with the ÖBB NightJet leaving Munich at 23:35 until Udine where you arrive at 6:23. Take one of the frequent regional trains to Trieste.
    Remark on tickets: Copenhagen to Munich can be bought from Deutsche Bahn (I took first class since it is so long; in any case, take a seat reservation from Copenhagen to Hamburg!). The NightJet can be bought from ÖBB (in 2017 also still from Deutsche Bahn). The Italian regional train can be bought from TrenItalia; TrenItalia online tickets for regional trains are valid for every regional train departing on the connection within 4 hours of the time printed on the ticket.
    Side remark: In Trieste, take a ride on the Tram no. 2 - it has a great view, leads to SISSA with a short walk and for part of the trip, it is pulled like a cable car. Tickets can be bought at Tobacco shops (look for "T"-signs).

  • Tübingen (near Stuttgart) - Grenoble (near Geneva):

    This is an easy one, just look for the connection on www.bahn.de. The fastest connection is 8h27, by local train to Horb, then IC to Zürich, then IC to Geneva, then by local train to Grenoble. However, the connection in Horb is tight (3 minutes), so if you want to be sure (like me), look for connections taking a total of 8h38 via Stuttgart, Karlsruhe and Lyon (all connections have more than 16 minutes). Sometimes tickets can be bought directly from the Deutsche Bahn, otherwise try Trainline, SNCF, and SBB.

A last hint: if your trip starts with a local train from a station that is served by DB (for example, S-Bahn stops in most cities), on the DB webpage you can book directly from the S-Bahn stop for the same prize, i.e. this way you get the local train for free. The parts on the local train are not bound to particular departures, even if your main ticket is only for a specific train!

In case a train is delayed and you miss a connection, or if your train is expected to be more than 20 minutes late, you have the right to use all other connections to reach your destination, even if your ticket is only for specified times. This includes local trains (S-Bahn)!

More Sustainability Links: Finance, Fashion, Electronics...

Finance and Investment:

  • Climetrics Rating: planning to invest in funds? Check their climate-friendliness here. 5 green leaves = good, 4 green leaves = ok, "not disclosed" = stay away from it (even if it has a "green" name). Warning: even highly-rated funds could still invest in fossil fuels, as long as they invest only in their most efficient use.
  • GLS-Bank: biggest German ethical bank. Does not invest in weapons or fossil fuels, supports sustainable projects and renewable energies. Warning: might invest also in non-evidence-based medicine.

A new smartphone has a carbon footprint of ca. 70kg carbon dioxide equivalent. Of those 70kg, 81% will be emitted during production and 12% is for electricity during the phones life. Not a lot of emissions that we could avoid here - compared to the 500kg for a flight from Germany to Spain! But when it comes to your slavery footprint your phone and your clothing becomes quite significant.

Fair Clothing:

  • The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) defines some environmental and social standards for production of textiles. In Germany "kbA" (for cotton etc.) and "kbT" (for wool etc.) designate production following standards of organic farming.
  • Hess Natur: partly also with production in Europe
  • Maas Natur: well-known
  • Armed Angels: new, relatively expensive
  • Pure Waste: textiles made from recycled cotton. (Cotton production was one of the main reasons for the drying out of the Aral Sea. The resulting salt plains produce dust storms and crops in the region are destroyed by salt being deposited onto the land. Summers have become hotter and the melting levels for the glaciers increased by 12 times, adding to the scarcity of water. An example for what we can expect on global scale due to climate change.)
  • For shoes not so many certificates are available. But Loints of Holland seems to produce in Europe and follows environmental standards. Also available in some offline shops.

Electronics:

  • Broke your laptop or your phone? Fixing is more sustainable than buying new. Instructions, spare parts and fixability rankings on IFixIt.
  • Lubuntu is a free, open, easy-to-install and easy-to-use operating system (based on Ubuntu Linux) that speeds up old computers if reinstalling the original system doesn't help anymore. For computers bought after 2008 probably the "Desktop 64-bit" version is right; if there are problems try the alternative versions. And it works just as well on Apple MacBooks!
  • LineageOS is a lighter version of Android and can speed up your smartphone when a factory reset is not sufficient. If your phone is not in their list, google for inofficial builds.
    The system should be even faster if you use microG instead of (Open)Gapps, but some apps might produce warning messages.