You are here

GIRO 2019: Lessen your own contribution to the climate emergency

David Saddington, climate change policymaker and environmentalist, will be delivering the opening address at IFoA’s GIRO Conference 2019. David talks about why he will be travelling by train from London to Edinburgh to attend the conference, rather than by flying…

View the conference program or register to attend

David SaddingtonI’m excited to kick off GIRO next month by giving the opening address focussed on climate change. We’ve got a lot to talk about! 2019 has been an incredibly busy year for people watching the climate newsfeed; record breaking heat in Europe, Extinction Rebellion protests shutting down cities and the UK’s game-changing ‘net-zero’ emission reduction plan as only a few examples. But before you even get to Edinburgh to hear me talking about the risks and opportunities from climate change, you can tap into the latest Scandinavian sustainability trend to take a simple but effective action to lessen your own contribution to the climate emergency.   

I’m talking about not being subject to flygskam (flight-shaming) by embracing tagskryt (train-brag). In the past year more and more Europeans have been shunning high carbon flights in favour of the more environmental railway journey.

I no longer fly when I travel to Edinburgh,. Not only is the train more climate friendly but it’s also a lot easier, and it’s a great time to get some work done. With airport check-in and transfers factored-in the train has pretty similar overall travel time to the high carbon flight.

Here’s some high level number crunching of the comparison:


  •         London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverly (right in the city centre) – total travel time of 4h20 with 29kg of CO2 emissions. There’s a train leaving at 9:00 on the 24th, arriving at 13:20 which gives plenty of time to get to GIRO before it starts at 14:30. Or even easier if you travel up the day before.


  •         Flight time is roughly 1h20-1h30, but you need to be at the airport approximately 1h30 beforehand to get through security, the compulsory duty-free shopping experience & waiting at the boarding gate.
  •         Then after the flight you have to wait for your bags - they always seem to put cabin bags in the hold now unless you get priority boarding. Then actually getting out of the airport can take around 15 mins and transfer into the city centre from the airport by car/bus is another 20-30 mins.
  •         So overall travel time is roughly 3h20-4h00 but has at least 144kg of CO2 emissions (and depending on the efficiency of the plane it could be up to 193kg). Short flights are very COintensive as a lot of fuel is used in take offs and landings.

It’s clear that when comparing train and plane travel there is a substantial difference in CO2 emissions. To put this difference into context, the 115kg difference in CO2 is roughly the equivalent emissions generated from powering an average house for an entire week… and that’s just for a one way journey!

As well as providing an environmental win and an opportunity for tagskryt, the rail journey skirts along the beautiful North Sea and provides very relaxing coastal views.  I also always look out for the stunning view of my university city, Durham, as the train crosses over the 30m high viaduct as it enter the cathedral city.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, I recommend the following links:

See you shortly in Edinburgh and I hope you enjoy the ride.

GIRO is attended annually by over 800 delegates and speakers who are keen to discuss key topics such as Pricing, Reserving, Modelling and the future of the insurance industry.

GIRO 2019 will be held at the EICC in Edinburgh. The 2.5-day conference will commence on Tuesday 24 September and finish on Thursday 26 September. 

In addition to David Saddington, keynote speakers include:

  • Naomi Sesay, owner of the Billionaire Ladies Club and On Screen Diversity Executive with Channel 4.
  • Dr Hannah Fry, Associate Professor in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL, author and critically acclaimed BBC documentary host.

If you are interested in learning more about climate change and the associated risks while at GIRO, you may be interested in attending the following sessions on Wednesday 25 September:

  • A2: The Frontiers of Sustainable Investing and Insurance B3: A Stab at Physical Climate Change Risk
  • 11:15 – B3: A Stab at Physical Climate Change Risk
  • 11:15 - B7: Hurricanes Working Party: Climate Change, Clustering and Market Response
  • 15:25 -  D2: Challenges in Disaster Risk Finance: Data, Modelling and Uncertainties

View the conference program or register to attend