Reducing your carbon footprint from travel

green_plane.gifIf want to reduce your carbon footprint, what should you do about your air travel until we have carbon-free jetfuel?

The Stockholm Environment Institute and the Tufts Climate Initiative has a good handout on the subject, “Flying Green.” They note

… the average American is responsible for the emissions of about 20 tons of CO2 annually…. If you fly to Europe and back from the US, you’ll add about 3-4 tons to your (already large) carbon footprint. With one flight you will have caused more emissions than 20 Bangladeshi will cause in a whole year. Unfortunately they are the ones who will lose their homes and livelihood once sea level rise inundates their low lying country.

Personally, I have cut back air travel a great deal to reduce emissions, to spend time with my daughter, to spend more time blogging, and, of course, to spend less time flying, which just isn’t very pleasant anymore.

The handout has a number of good suggestions and factoids — why should flying economy be considered better for the environment than flying business class?

Also, while I’m not a big fan of carbon offsets, the handout offers some good principles for such purchases and then recommends a few offsets companies.

If you want to learn more about the controversial issue of just how much damage to the climate air travel does, you might read this. If you want to know more about offsetting air travel emissions, read this.

11 Responses to Reducing your carbon footprint from travel

  1. Ken Levenson says:

    If you want to get these flying suggestions plus “a million” more simple, straight-forward suggestions to reducing your footprint NOW, simply download the Checklist Toward Zero Carbon from here
    Download it, copy it, edit it for your local conditions, make it your own and pass it on.

  2. JMG says:

    It’s the refusal of people who otherwise get it — people who buy Prii, wax rhapsodic about their minimal food miles and vegetarian habits, and who think that Hummers are an abomination and Exxon is the anti-Christ — to apply their understanding to their own behavior that persuades me that we are well and truly screwed and are generally not at all serious about stopping a runaway climate express. Who needs delayers when we have so many realists who act so unrealistically?

    I have a good friend, a wonderful person, who is making his fifth or sixth jet flight to Central America to do research for a master’s degree in foresty (a study on carbon sequestration). His experience will be the ultimate Pyrrhic victory for the climate: “many more victories like this and we are lost.”

  3. JCH says:

    I haven’t been on an airplane since years before 9-11. I took a vacation in Australia.

    I can’t agree with what you are saying, JMG, independent individual actions can’t do a thing. Society will either make this change at the herd level, or Lemming out.

  4. Paul K says:

    The idea that independent individual actions can’t do a thing is wrong on many levels. While most proposals are top down in nature, the actual nuts and bolts of transforming to carbon free energy is a bottom up process. Over the next 40 years every house, every factory and commercial building, every car, every office must be powered by technologies very different from those widely used today. This will take millions of individual actions and the sooner we begin, the faster the goal will be reached. No solution can succeed if its implementation depends on imposition by authority, however benevolent that authority may be.

  5. CORman says:

    I believe individuals will begin to take action. I know from the traffic and response

    We threw together this little site for folks to view all of the carbon offset providers from every country.

  6. paulm says:

    get all your flying out of the way this year…its going to be too expensive after that … so there, that will help!

  7. Danny Bloom says:

    Tufts Climate Initiative? What’s that all about? Must go check. I went to Tufts, 19671971. Even graduated.

    Since 1983, I basically don’t fly. IDF. I Don’t Fly.

  8. Danny Bloom says:

    A blogger/humorst over at Dot Earth named bekow says this re that:

    “The readership [here] is considered to include prospects for the new Gulfstream G650 executive jet.

    What does that tell you about the likelihood of reduced carbon emissions?”

    — Posted by Steve Bolger over at Dot Earth a few days ago

  9. Anna Haynes says:

    What’s the best videoconferencing solution, to replace air travel?

  10. Jay Alt says:

    Aviation contributes about 2% of global GHG emissions. That isn’t much compared to transport or building sectors (~40%). But it is becoming more important and could double or triple in the decades ahead. And the EU is threatening to take unilateral actions that could effect US carriers.

    Scientists aren’t sure just what happens to the emissions or whether the resulting contrails, mostly at critical altitudes between the tropo and stratosphers, have a warming or cooling effect. Nitrous oxides at those altitudes could have many effects. So it would be a very good idea to know what is happening, in addition to working to reduce emissions.

    This man testified after Gore last spring and has a familiar suggestion – more $ for research.
    He is also the US coordinator for aviation efforts and an author of all 4 IPCC reports.

    It seems to me that at the moment aviation emissions may have a higher exposure profile than their effects really merit. Travel by leaders is often pointed to as a sign of ‘hypocrisy.’

  11. paulm says:

    ….get all your flying out of the way this year…its going to be too expensive after that … so there, that will help!….

    here the link…