What’s the fastest way to cut your greenhouse gas emissions? Stop flying. Taking a transatlantic flight from London to New York puts as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a typical year spent commuting to work by car.
Of course, the numbers are complicated. For example, a Boeing 747 travelling a short-haul route from London to Scotland with a full compliment of passengers will put out less CO2 per person than if the passengers had travelled by car over the same distance. However, a significant proportion of a flight’s CO2 emissions come from take-off and landing, which will be the same regardless of distance, and short-haul flights are also more likely to have empty seats (plus, it’s highly unlikely that the 747’s passengers would all take individual cars up to Edinburgh if the flight was cancelled).
Regardless, rail travel is unambiguously much, much better for the environment than flying. Giving up air travel is a great way to drive down your emissions (though giving up meat may be even better choice). So, should we all make the switch?
Aircraft are becoming more fuel efficient, and airlines are packing on more people per flight than they used to (which is better for the planet, but doesn’t always make for a pleasant experience). Yet commercial aviation is currently the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions out there, and airlines are predicted to triple the amount of CO2 they pump out by 2050. So, is now really the best time to expand Heathrow, or finish Berlin’s infamous €7 billion euro airport?
Should we stop flying to help the environment? Would the world be better off if we all took rail travel? Or is the airline industry improving fuel efficiency? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts!
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