A few days ago we highlighted how flying a little higher or a little lower can have a big impact on a heat trapping effect caused by contrails. Now we look at CO2 that is caused by the actual fights and if it is better to take a short flight, and what the actual impact is of CO2 from flying. It turns out that its really not great, and there is a lot of room for improvement. Given more people than ever are traveling things will have to change soon.
Taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries around the world produces in a whole year, a new Guardian analysis has found.
The figures highlight the disproportionate carbon footprint of those who can afford to fly, with even a short-haul return flight from London to Edinburgh contributing more CO2 than the mean annual emissions of a person in Uganda or Somalia.
2019 is forecast to be another record-breaking year for air travel, with passengers expected to fly a total of 8.1tn km, up 5% from last year and more than 300% since 1990.
According to figures from German nonprofit Atmosfair, flying from London to New York and back generates about 986kg of CO2 per passenger. There are 56 countries where the average person emits less carbon dioxide in a whole year – from Burundi in Africa to Paraguay in South America.
But even a relatively short return trip from London to Rome carries a carbon footprint of 234kg of CO2 per passenger – more than the average produced by citizens of 17 countries annually.
The figures are averages taking into account which aircraft models are typically used on flight routes, and the estimated occupancy of seats on board those planes. The figures include only the CO2 generated by burning jet fuel, not any emissions embedded in the construction of the plane or any other greenhouse gases that might be produced, such as water vapor.