How air travelers can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions at home
Our climate is changing, the airlines have been pressured to reduce carbon emissions from flying. For most of us, particularly in Australia, air travel is an essential mode of transportation. So what can we do to reduce the environmental impact of flying? The journey to and from the airport is often a forgotten aspect of flight, which offers a quick option to cut the carbon emissions of the trip by a surprising amount.
The newly released research indicates that the average passenger traveling across Sydney to Melbourne’s carbon emissions generated by driving a car that is fossil-fuelled to travel to and from airports contribute to 13.5 percent of emissions from door-to-door. On a global scale, this figure reaches 12.1 percent for long-haul flights and can get 22.8 percent for short-haul travel.
In the International Association for Transport’s 2050 roadmap for a net-zero emission, 13% of the global aviation carbon reduction will be due to hydrogen and electric propulsion. The remaining 65 percent is expected to result from the widespread use of sustainable aviation fuel. It is a fuel made by renewable energy sources other than petroleum, like municipal solid waste, woody biomass, fats, oils, and greases.
Each of these vast lifters demands massive investment, technological advancements, and some limitations and risks. Specific options could render air travel costly. Airlines are relocating mountains to reduce carbon emissions. However, there are rising fears that their net-zero plans may not work.
Contrary to that, a 13.5 percent reduction in emissions on an everyday Sydney-Melbourne journey might sound like a pipe dream. But our research has shown that it’s achievable if passengers are convinced to alter how they travel in and out of the terminal.
So how can travelers be convinced to switch?
Studies have found that Carbon “labelling” helps shift consumer habits towards sustainable options. This is similar to the nutrition label that appears on the back of our cereal boxes can help us select healthier choices.
For instance, when looking for flights on the travel website Skyscanner, the flights are listed with carbon emissions so users can make an educated decision.
The two recently completed research studies from The University of California, Davis, recommend that showing the emissions outcomes of various gate-to-gate flights, like aircraft models and transit stops, could make them choose more eco-friendly flights, which reduces emissions by as much as 3.8 percent.
Air travel only sometimes begins at airports or finishes at them. They start from home and continue to destinations or reverse. Carbon emissions from air travel can be split into air and ground segments categorized as airline and airport emissions, respectively. While airlines concentrate on gate-to-gate reductions in carbon emissions through new technology, door-to-door emissions caused due to travel between and to airports could be cut down immediately.
Let’s examine the example of a Sydney to Melbourne journey. You drive from North Sydney to Sydney Airport via car, then fly towards Melbourne Airport and catch a taxi to the city center. The trip generates 82kg of CO2 from door to door. However, if you take the bus, train, or electric vehicle (charged with a renewable energy source) to get between the airport and home and back, your emissions from your journey are reduced to 71kg, an 13.5 percent drop from door-to-door.
Although travel websites are increasingly communicating gate-togate emissions to customers, we’re unaware 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 may encourage them to consider greener alternatives like public transportation and electric vehicles.