Climaneed - Cutting Down on Flying can Help to Save the Environment?

Cutting Down on Flying can Help to Save the Environment?

With the growing concern around the environmental impact of transportation, people have become more conscious about the mode of transport these days. We have started switching to battery-operated vehicles, public transport, cycling, and other environment-friendly modes of transport. While all these things help reduce the carbon footprint, the focus has been on air travel. The issue has become so prevalent that people have started “flight shaming” one another. It happens when someone criticizes others for choosing air travel. 

That’s because everyone knows nothing can increase your carbon footprint as drastically as traveling by air. It’s surprising to say that flights account for 2.5% of the total carbon emission. Fortunately, very few people are frequent flyers. Even in well-developed countries, like the US and UK, people fly twice or thrice a year (either for a vacation or corporate purposes). Either way, that’s still a very low number. So, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, right? The environmental impact of air travel is so bad that even if a person takes a flight once annually, air travel alone will exceed the greenhouse gas emission from other sources combined in the US.

Transportation by air

Environmental Impact of Air Transport

For people who choose air travel, it increases our personal carbon footprint significantly. Because there is no denying that no mode of transport affects the climate as badly as air travel. The gasses released by an aircraft have a devastating effect on our climate. Now, think about the number of aircraft flying every day. What makes it even worse is the fact that hundreds of planes fly with few passengers. It isn’t only the carbon dioxide released from the engines affecting the environment. 

But, many substances, like nitrous oxide, have a detrimental effect on our planet. It seems nearly impossible for a frequent flier to cut down on flying, as everyone needs to travel for business purposes. Trains and any other mode of transportation are not available for long distances. Still, there are many ways you can reduce your carbon emission from flying. In this post, we are going to walk you through some of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of our travel while keeping carbon emissions minimum. 

Choose Trains and Other Modes of Transport

The above stats make it obvious that air travel accounts for the biggest chunk of our carbon footprint. So, the best thing you can do here is to avoid air travel as much as possible. You can take trains, instead. It might take you longer to reach your target destination, but that’s the least you can do for the environment. 

You are not only doing a favor for our planet, but by choosing a train or less aggressive means of transport, you can save significantly. This is especially true for short-distance traveling. If you are traveling within the country, you can easily find a train or a bus that will take you to the destination at a fraction of the cost. You will get peace of mind knowing that you have done something to reduce your carbon footprint. Consider flights only when there’s an emergency, or air travel is your only option to reach the destination. You can use a carbon footprint calculator to know your environmental impact from flying. 

Do not Take Short-haul Flights

Do you know 10 to 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted when the plane takes off and lands? If you can’t avoid air travel, avoiding short-haul flights is the least you can do. The connecting flights, specifically, account for a large amount of carbon emission. It’s better to take a non-stop flight instead of connecting flights. It will increase the per-person carbon footprint. Plus, it is not convenient. People who take multiple short-haul flights are likely to have a significantly higher carbon footprint than those who avoid flying altogether or taking a long-haul flight. As mentioned above, catch a bus or drive a car instead of taking a short-haul flight. That will be much cheaper, more convenient, and more eco-friendly than air travel.

Cruising at altitude doesn’t consume as much fuel as take-off and landing. So, long-haul flights are comparatively better and more fuel-efficient than connecting flights. At the same time, some long-haul flights tend to be less efficient than their short-haul counterparts. That’s because these planes are supposed to carry a considerable amount of fuel, which makes them heavier and less efficient. As a rule of thumb, if the distance is lesser than 600 miles, an alternative mode of transport is much better and cost-efficient. Car is a good alternative, especially if you are bringing a few passengers.

In fact, more and more people are switching to buses. Chartered buses and new bus carriers are becoming quite popular in America and worldwide. They are cost-efficient, environment-friendly, and not to mention a convenient way to travel. 

Choose Fuel-efficient Airlines

Another way you can contribute to the environment is by choosing fuel-efficient airlines. The government does its part when it comes to putting pressure on the airlines to go environment-friendly or use parts that consume less energy and fuel. But, what can we do as individuals? With more and more people opting for fuel-efficient vehicles, airplanes using traditional parts that emit a considerable amount of CO2 will have to switch to eco-friendly jet engines. They will also have to install parts that consume less fuel to operate. New aircraft have modern tools and parts that are manufactured specifically keeping the environment in mind.

Now, how do you know if the airline is fuel-efficient? Conduct research. Ask professionals from the aviation industry about how fuel-efficient and eco-friendly the airline is. As a general rule, new airlines that have started operation recently or have added newer aircraft to their fleets are fuel-efficient. As the focus is on the environment, experts in the aviation industry are doing everything they can to manufacture greener and fuel-efficient aircraft. Another thing to keep in mind when flying is to carry less luggage. The heavier your luggage (both checked baggage and hand luggage), the lesser the efficiency of the airlines.

Avoid business class air transportation

Avoid Business Class

Air travel can’t be avoided. In emergencies, you need to take a flight to reach the destination faster. Whether it’s for meeting a sick family member or attending an urgent meeting, air travel seems the most convenient way to get to your target destination quickly and without any hassle. Generally, the more people a vehicle can seat, the more energy-efficient it is. The same goes for flights. The energy required to fly a plane is divided between passengers in different classes. Those traveling in business class have a slightly higher carbon footprint than passengers in economy class. That’s because premium, business, and first-class cabins have fewer seats. The size of these seats is also bigger than seats in economy class. 

First or premium-class cabins that feature lie-flat beds are worse. Now, you can’t say that traveling in the economy or business class doesn’t make any difference to your carbon footprint. Since the seats are already made, whether you sit in them or not doesn’t matter. The aircraft will still fly, and these sections will consume the same amount of energy — whether or not passengers occupy them. The more people buying business class tickets, the less efficient flights will be. Do not buy a business or first-class tickets and encourage airlines to add more luxurious space to the flights. 

Invest in Carbon Offsets

Some non-profit organizations run many programs that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. It is calculated based on your carbon footprint from flying. For example, if your flight costs you 1-2 tons of carbon, you can invest in projects that will save carbon. Many environment-conscious companies and non-profit firms launch several programs that involve growing a bunch of trees that will reduce carbon emissions. 

While these projects can make up for the amount of carbon emission from your flight, these are often not effective. That’s because it might take a tree 15-30 years to grow fully and become strong enough to reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There is no guarantee these trees will grow old enough to absorb carbon emitted by the plane. What if it dies due to a disease or is cut for industrial purposes before use? Besides, these programs will only make this world a little greener. It doesn’t solve the actual problem. 

The goal is to implement steps to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions completely instead of shifting focus to somewhere else. It is like you are destroying trees in one forest and growing it in another place. So, there is nothing you are doing for the environment. Still, it is better to do something than nothing. If you really care about the environment, investing in carbon offset programs makes sense. They can reduce your carbon footprint significantly.

These are a few ways how cutting down on flying can help the environment. Switch to an eco-friendly and sustainable mode of transport instead of taking flights every time. These small steps will reduce your carbon footprint drastically.

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