Lately, the “flight shaming” movement has come to the attention of the travel community, especially in Europe, where activist groups insist that consumers should use alternative modes of transportation, such as train travel, in order to reduce their carbon footprints.
It’s true that travelers have become increasingly aware of passenger air travel’s degree of impact on climate change and many are making conscious efforts to make more eco-friendly choices. With today’s cheaper air-travel options and more people flying than ever before, should we be feeling guilty every time we step aboard a plane?
A new study conducted by the International Council for Clean Transportation would seem to indicate otherwise. Its findings suggest flying doesn’t account for much of the average American’s carbon footprint, Forbes reported. It turns out that more than half of American citizens do not typically fly at all. Even so, the U.S. holds the top spot globally for the highest total carbon emissions produced by commercial aviation activities.
In 2018, flights departing from U.S. airports alone generated nearly one quarter (24 percent) of all CO2 emissions produced by airline operations worldwide, two-thirds of which resulted from domestic flights. The second-worst offenders were China, Hong Kong and Macau, which were responsible for thirteen percent of global emissions, while the U.K. came in third with just a four-percent share, following by Japan and Germany.
The real problem in the U.S. stems from a particular subset of air travelers—airlines/airlines-want-travelers-to-use-up-those-frequent-flyer-miles.html” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>frequent flyers who fly excessively as a luxury, rather than a necessity. Twelve percent of Americans who take more than six round-trip flights annually are actually responsible for a full two-thirds of all U.S. CO2 emissions produced by commercial aviation.
Each of those travelers accounts for three tons of CO2 emissions annually. If we all flew like these people, global oil consumption would increase by 150 percent and CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use would rise by 60 percent, says the new report.
For more information, visit theicct.org/publications/co2-emissions-commercial-aviation-2018.