How air travellers can cut their door-to-door emissions right now
The climate is changing, the airlines have been pressured to decrease the carbon emissions that come from flying. For most of us, particularly in Australia, flying is a necessary mode of transportation, so how can we minimize its impact on the environment? Transporting passengers to and from the airport is a neglected aspect of flying that can be a great method to reduce the carbon emissions of the journey by a surprising amount.
Our recently published research indicates that for a typical economy passenger traveling between Sydney to Melbourne, the carbon emissions generated by the use of fossil-fuelled vehicles to travel to and from airports account for a staggering 13.5 percent of emissions from door-to-door. Globally the figure is 12.1 percent for long-haul travel and can reach 22.8 percent for short-haul travel.
In the IATA’s 2050 roadmap for a net-zero emission, 13% of the world’s aviation carbon reduction will be due to hydrogen and electric propulsion. The remaining 65 percent is expected to result from the widespread acceptance of renewable aviation fuel. This is fuel derived from renewable sources that are not petroleum-based, like municipal solid waste, woody biomass, fats grease, oils, and greases.
Each of these huge lifters requires a huge amount of investment as well as technological breakthroughs but comes with some limitations and dangers. Certain solutions could cause air travel to be prohibitively costly. Airlines are tackling mountains to decarbonize. However, there are rising worries that their net-zero strategies might not be a good fit.
However, a 13.5 percent reduction in emissions on an everyday Sydney-Melbourne journey could sound like a utopia. However, our research suggests it’s achievable if passengers are able to convince them to change how they travel in and out of the terminal.
Transporting passengers between and to the airport using a fossil-fuelled vehicle accounts for a shockingly huge amount of carbon emissions the entire trip. Shutterstock
So how can travelers be convinced to switch?
The research has proven that carbon “labelling” helps shift consumer behavior towards more sustainable alternatives. This is similar to the nutrition label that appears on the back of our cereal boxes can help us select healthier choices.
For example, when searching for flights on the online travel site Skyscanner, All flights are listed with carbon emissions so users can make an educated decision.
The two new research studies by University of California, Davis. University of California, Davis recommends showing the carbon emissions of different gate-to-gate flights like aircraft models and transit stops. This could encourage them to take greener flights, which reduces emissions by as much as 3.8 percent.
However, air travel doesn’t begin and end in airports. They begin at home and continue to destinations and reverse. Carbon emissions from air travel can be split into air and ground segments and are counted as airline emissions and airport emissions, respectively. While airlines are focused on gate-togate decarbonization with the help of future technologies, the emissions from door-to-door generated through travel to and from airports can be reduced right away.
Let’s examine the example of a Sydney to Melbourne journey. Let’s say you drive from North Sydney to Sydney Airport via car, and then fly into Melbourne Airport and catch a taxi to the city center. This trip produces 82 kilograms of CO2 from door to door. However, if you take trains, buses, or an electric vehicle (charged with a renewable energy source) for travel between the airport and home, The emissions of the trip are reduced to 71kg. This is a 13.5 percent decrease from door-to-door.
While travel websites are increasingly communicating gate-togate emissions to the public but we’re not aware of any that provide door-to-door emissions. Informing climate-conscious travelers about the impact of carbon emissions from door-to-door airport ground connections can encourage them to select greener alternatives like public transportation and electric vehicles.
Search engines for travel aggregators are now identifying carbon emissions when they offer flight alternatives. Google Flights
Give airlines an incentive to inform passengers
Airports and government agencies have, for a long time, worked together to push consumers toward greener alternatives for ground transportation. For example, Transport for NSW has set a reduction of 50% in emissions goal in 2030.
However, the popularity of these choices is still very low. The majority of trips to airports in Australia currently are made using a conventional vehicle.
We, as consumers, are in relationships with airlines that we do not do with the airports. When we fly with a particular airline, we pick our choice cautiously. But we don’t often think about how to get there. the airport.
Airlines are a leader in customer communications and engagement. They manage one of the biggest frequent-flier programs in the world. The last time we checked, Qantas had 15 million program members, while Virgin was home to 1 million.
By using these avenues, airline companies can learn about us and the way we are when they make their flying decisions. They are in the best position to keep us updated about travel options that are door-to-door and help us make more sustainable airport ground-connection options. To encourage them to take this step, the efforts they make should be acknowledged through emissions accounting.