Did you know: Two people flying in an airplane from New York City to Washington, D.C. create a carbon footprint of 472 pounds, while those same two people driving the same distance reduces the carbon footprint by half, to 229 pounds?
Every citizen desires clean air to breathe. As the high-travel summer season kicks off, let’s refocus on the environment, particularly ways we can make our travels a little greener.
While ground transportation is the single largest contributor to carbon footprints in the environment at 16%, Aviation is the second largest even though it accounts for only 2% Carbon emissions.
Organisations like IATA, WTTC and WEF (World Economic Forum) are playing a stellar role in creating awareness and setting standards; while at the same time aircraft and engine manufacturers are evolving with newer technologies that burn less fuel. For instance; the easiest way to trim the weight off the aircrafts would involve the installation of lightweight seats. Seats made out of materials like titanium and carbon fibre, can weigh almost half as much as current chairs.
Airlines are constantly searching for ways to reduce their fuel consumption and also explore alternative fuels such as bio fuels. Responsible airlines like KLM, United, Lufthansa and our very own Spice Jet among others are testing flights with Bio fuel.
Bio fuels have the potential to bring about a step change in environmental efficiency – upto 80% less emmissions. The bio fuels, which can come from sources like natural oils, seaweed and agricultural waste, and through crops such as Jatropha; recycling household waste, used cooking oil or producing algae, bio fuels that can power aircraft could soon be used instead of jet fuel. This can help reduce planet-warming emissions from aviation.
What is needed now is a long-term multi-stakeholder approach for the further development of bio fuels to be a viable alternative. Only through a partnership of oil companies, airlines, airports and governments can research and development of bio fuels continue to make progress.
Also select airports mandate use of non fossil-fuel equipment, like electric/battery ground vehicles etc.
But along with major organisations we, as travellers, can contribute in many ways:
- The most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to fly less often. But obviously that wouldn’t help, so the least bit you can do is take a non –stop flight. The more times you take off, the more fuel you use. According to a 2010 report from NASA, about 25 % of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off. That includes taxiing, which is the largest source of emissions in the landing-takeoff cycle
- Where possible, choose airlines that use newer planes as they are more fuel efficient, offer carbon offsetting, have a sustainability programme, and that are investing in more sustainable ways of flying.
- Travel light. Each kilo that we carry less, including our own weight, saves 21 Kg of CO2 per domestic flight. So ease yourself at airports, rather than in the aircraft!!
Until planes can fly on solar power or wind power (or an equally renewable source of fuel) air travel will always have a carbon footprint.
If you want to do your part, limiting that carbon offsets might be your best bet.
Of course our planet will survive, by possibly knocking all mankind off in a few hundred years, and take rebirth in a new avatar. But for now let us now seriously consider about saving our children and theirs, from self inflicted evils like water scarcity, pollutants, noise and the like.
Do your bit for the environment.
PC: Juhasz Imre from Pexels