Updated: Mar 24
The idea of flying in a net zero world might sound impossible as air travel is one of the most carbon-intensive ways to travel. According to research in 2018, aviation accounts for around 1.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This number may look small in comparison with other sectors, however, unlike other industries, aviation still has no clear path to decarbonization. Transitions into renewable energy and electric cars are well underway, but sustainable innovation in aviation, while under development, is still far in the distance (Ritchie, 2020).
With climate change becoming an increasingly pressing issue, the reduction of carbon emissions from air travel is crucial. While advancements in the aviation industry have resulted in more and more fuel-efficient airplanes, more needs to be done to reduce air travel’s carbon footprint. One way of doing this is through carbon offset, whereby one can compensate for their emissions by increasing carbon storage elsewhere (Bösehans et al., 2020). Planting trees, mangroves, and preserving blue carbon ecosystems are examples of carbon offset activities. Several major airlines already offer offsetting packages and invest in renewable energy, reforestation, environmental education, and other eco-friendly activities.
Achieving a net zero future, however, requires a more significant effort. Simply emitting and offsetting without investment in clean technology and changes in citizens’ will not be enough. The aviation industry should continue to work on developing zero-emission technology airplanes, delaying it means renouncing the net zero future (Clark, 2019). Although there are zero-emission aircraft under development (e.g. Airbus electric aircraft), these prototypes are still decades out from hitting the skies. In the meantime, consumers should strive to reduce air travel time, at least by 6% to tackle global warming on the pathway to net zero (McGrath, 2021).
Additionally, CarbonEthics makes it easy for individuals to calculate and offset their carbon footprint. Using the carbon calculator, users can determine how much air travel contributes to their carbon footprint. Following the calculated emissions, users can purchase the Blue Carbon Package approximately offsetting 60kg CO2 emission per package, that’s enough to offset about 40 minutes of flying in an average Boeing 737. This package comprises 3 mangrove trees planted by the local farmer, offering not only an initiative to tackle the climate impact of our carbon footprint but also to improve the livelihood of the coastal community.
Delaying is never an option on a warming planet. All parties should cooperate on actualizing the effort to ensure zero carbon emission is achieved by 2050. What can we do? Reduce air traveling if possible and offset it if you can not.
Writer: Kemas Saddam
Editor: Stevenson Ramsey
Bösehans, G., Bolderdijk, J. W., & Wan, J. (2020). Pay more, fly more? Examining the potential guilt-reducing and flight-encouraging effect of an integrated carbon offset. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 71, 101469. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101469
Clark, S. (2019). Can we have net zero emissions and still fly? The Guardians. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/nov/24/can-we-fly-and-have-net-zero-emi ssions-air-industry-e-fan-x-rolls-royce-engines-kerosine-carbon-2050
Mair, J. (2011). Exploring air travellers' voluntary carbon-offsetting behaviour. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19 (2), 215-230. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2010.517317
McGrath, M. (2021). Climate change: Will I still be able to fly in a net zero world? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58284257
Ritchie, H. (2020). Climate change and flying: what share of global CO2 emissions come from aviation? Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions-from-aviation