For many, planning a trip involves a few clicks of the mouse and painful decisions on whether you want to go with a vegetarian or meat meal on your flight. Not the case for Dan Hodd. The British musician and environmental activist undertook a journey to the United Nations’ COP27 climate conference in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh without stepping foot on a plane.
Using a mixture of his bicycle and public transport, Hodd travelled hundreds of miles across Europe, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Armed with a violin and a map Hodd battled the elements from border guards to language barriers.
“Besides some from the Middle East and some from East Africa, I am the only person to have made it to the COP27 climate conference by sustainable methods. That’s no small achievement,” Hodd tells us. There was criticism on social media of those attending the summit, including world leaders, for flying in. According to FlightRadar24, 36 private jets landed in Sharm El-Sheikh ahead of the meeting.
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Not taking a single flight illustrates an important point, Hodd says.
We’ve got the largest annual climate conference within which basically nobody was able to get there by sustainable methods. I think that illustrates so much about the importance of the transport sector needing to do more to connect us internationally without the need for planes.
The journey to COP27 went beyond making a point about transport and its role in the climate crisis. “Connection to local issues is something else that became quite important on this journey. I didn’t think about it initially, when planning this trip, but travelling across the Middle East with climate on my mind, I have learnt to see both climate and other issues from the perspective of the people who live here. Getting to see what Iraqis, Saudis, Jordanians and Turks have to deal with around how climate change impacts them is a very important viewpoint.”
“For me personally to learn more about, and think more critically of issues to do with the politics, culture and history of the Middle East, the impact of petroleum and the so-called divide between Islamic influence in the East and Judeo-Christian influence in the West. It’s been great to be here, to understand Islam better, to see the beauty of this region, to see the ugliness of this region, the beauty of the people, the ugliness of the people.”
Hodd’s experiences have left him wanting more and he hopes to be in a position to travel more across the Middle East and beyond in the future.
Check Dan Hodd’s website