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ARC Home > Projects > Major ARC events :
Assisi 2011 | Assisi 1986 | St Francis of Assisi - an inspiring life | ARC Statement on travel To Assisi | Assisi 2011 on video | HRH Prince Philip's speech, Assisi 2011

ARC statement on travel To Assisi


As a secular non-governmental organisation working since 1995 to help the world’s major religions develop environmental programmes, ARC is intensely aware of the concerns around air travel. We recognise that air travel emits damaging greenhouse gas emissions, and that:

  • On average, travelling by train results in a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions than travelling by plane;
  • The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research concludes that without swift action to curtail aviation growth, all the other UK sectors will have to completely decarbonise by 2050 to compensate;
  • In addition to CO2, aircraft release other pollutants high in the atmosphere where they compound the warming effect of flying. Because of this, aircraft emissions are thought to around two times more damaging than their CO2 emissions alone.


As much as possible, ARC avoids travelling anywhere, preferring to use email, Skype, telephone and video conference calls instead. When we must travel, we try to avoid doing so by air or car. However, there are times when face-to-face meetings are necessary. That’s true when we’re dealing with faith representatives who live in places without reliable internet or telephone facilities, or who simply don’t own the telephones, mobiles or computers to access them. It’s also true when, as is often the case, we’re dealing with senior faith leaders; busy people with little time to spare, when bringing them together for a concentrated conference or meeting can achieve far more than months of emails and telephone calls.


Almost all of the delegates attending ARC’s Assisi event are flying into Rome. ARC is then transporting them via coach to Assisi. For many – coming from places such as Mongolia, Indonesia, Nigeria, the United States – overland travel is simply not an option. Also, most of the delegates are senior people in their organisations; it’s hard for them to give more than a couple of days to a single event – and we’re asking them to devote at least five days (including travel) to Assisi.

ARC looked at whether it would be feasible for ARC staff to travel by train to Assisi. A ticket from Bath, UK, to Assisi would cost around £500 per person (including a single sleeper) and take at least 24 hours, entailing three changes (London, Paris and Rome). This is problematic given we are bringing an enormous amount of equipment (banners, delegates packs, Green Pilgrimage handbooks, Green Guides for the Hajj, etc). Quite apart from the lengthy time involved, we simply could not carry it all by train. Nor could a small charity such as ARC easily afford the cost – which is three to five times that of flying.


ARC’s travel agent has calculated the carbon emissions involved in everyone’s travel to Assisi using internationally recognised standards. After the Assisi event, we will make the appropriate donation required to a tree-planting project run by one of ARC’s faith partners in sub-Saharan Africa – Bishop Shoo of the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania – to offset the carbon emissions this event has generated. We will publish this amount on our website.

Bishop Fredrick Shoo launched the Northern Diocese’s long-term action plan to restore the severely degraded environment of the Kilimanjaro region in 2009 (to see his plan click here). As part of his target of planting 7.5 million trees in seven years, he’s setting up tree nurseries and engaging his entire faith community in tree-planting.

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