Dagens Nyheter’s exposure of the flying habits of the permanent secretary to the Swedish Infrastructure Minister prompts me to write today about air travel. Erik Bromander has not only misspent public money by ignoring government travel guidelines, he’s chosen options that have much greater impact on the climate.
We all know that flying has a significant impact on the climate: aviation is estimated to contribute around 3% of global emissions. 90% of the world’s population don’t fly yet those of us that do are flying more and more often so we need to think again. Here are some tips for Eric Bromander:
1. Fly economy class. Business class passengers get more space and more services so emissions per person km are higher. A rough guide is that emissions go up by 50% per person journey from economy to business class and by 300% from economy to first class. Interestingly these differences mirror the additional costs per square metre.
2. Fly less, of course. This is easiest for domestic travel. Flying between Stockholm and Göteborg may seem quick, but the emissions are around 300 kg CO2e (emissions from travelling by train, around zero). A flight between Stockholm and Helsinki emits c.300 kg CO2e whereas an overnight ferry journey generates about half this figure. Video link equipment reduces the need to travel at all, saving time and money.
3. Keep stopovers to a minimum. Takeoff and landing are more energy-intensive than horizontal flight so stopovers increase total journey emissions (10% increase per landing).
4. Fly in new aircraft. Aircraft built recently use less fuel per passenger km than older models and some airlines have newer fleets than others. The ICCT compared fuel efficiency for airlines on transatlantic flights in 2014 and found wide variations (from 27 to 40 passenger km per litre fuel). Find out which airlines had best and worst fuel efficiency here.
For service companies and organisations flights are often a very significant source of emissions. For ZeroMission and for some of our customers emissions from flights are over 80% of total emissions (all scopes).
If you need inspiration for your efforts to reduce emissions from flights, check out Solar Impulse which recently completed a 40 000 km trip around the world, flying by the power of the sun. Not a cloud in the sky!