So, trees are gone. Forests have burnt. The ratio of O2 to CO2 has changed. Carbon experts conducting a 10-year-long study of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have concluded humans release more CO2 than all of the world’s volcanoes combined. Despite the extensive research, we still cannot be sure humans are the cause of global warming and climate change – after all, the earth was a fireball at the very beginning. But one thing is for sure: some of our actions are detrimental to our environment and leave a negative footprint. Reducing or completely stopping the latter will assuredly result in positive impacts and might even slow down the fast-paced climate change and global warming.
Studies have shed light on the impact climate change has on our planet encouraging us to change. We gave up straws, reduced plastic bags, and plastic bottles. What’s next? We cannot be asked to stop traveling in order to reduce CO2 emissions, so what’s the alternative?
Flying takes a toll on the environment due to its dependence on fossil fuels. A round-trip transatlantic flight emits as much CO2 as an average Indian emits in an entire year. Due to recent environmental movements, air travel has dipped in Sweden. Following the path of teenage activist Greta Thunberg, climate-conscious swedes favor trains over planes. When surveyed, more than 30% state choosing to stay on the ground when possible.
However, trains do not (yet) run from Paris to New York. One can find that such long-haul tickets tend to be quite inexpensive when thinking about the distance & fuel used. How do airlines keep their seat tickets so cheap whilst making a profit? They most certainly do not have the environment at heart. Flight prices are relatively cheap because, in a historic oddity, fuel for international flights is not taxed. Thus, airlines are not liable and usually do not pay the full extent of the environmental damage they cause.
Looking into Alaska Airlines, a statement confirmed they use 1 million gallons of jet fuel every day and are only the seventh-largest carrier in the country. Thus, many companies are looking into alternative fuels such as biofuel. In 2016, two Alaska Airlines flights out of Seattle became the first commercial flights to use a new biofuel — the first approved for airplanes since 2011.
In a nutshell, airlines are working on their sustainability, taking action in order to reduce their negative footprint on the earth. But their practices can seem quite controversial. Over the last few years, my flights have never been late (or at least I don’t recall it). Even when departing late, there always is some miraculous wind allowing us to arrive on time at our destination. Truth is, airlines cheat us and allow additional time, taking into account historic possible delays. This is called padding. ‘By padding, airlines are gaming the system to fool you.’ – Michael Baiada. Padding drives higher costs in fuel burn, noise, and CO2 which means if airline efficiency goes up, costs go down, benefitting both the environment and fares. Thus, this is controversial as airlines should – in accordance with CSR – tackle operational issues for everyone’s benefit.
The good thing is that flyers can be nudged in the right direction and turn their travels around, having a more environmentally friendly perspective in mind when booking their next holidays. Companies signing up for Climate Perks promise to offer at least two days per year of paid time off for employees who use buses, trains, boats or carpools to go on holiday, rather than flights or solo car journeys.
Thank you and don’t forget to do the following:
- Offset your carbon footprint next time you fly
- Compare your current carbon footprint to the 2020 target on https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/
Book of the Month:Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail and Succeed by Jared Diamond