Paul Dickinson, executive director of the Carbon Disclosure Project predicts change is inevitable:
“I’m absolutely, definitely sure that people will be flying a lot less in 5 to 10 years.”
You could be a farmer's market loving, bicycle riding, hemp-wearing, vegetarian that has significantly lowered your carbon footprint, but take even one flight and all that hard work is nullified.
Just one return flight from Vancouver, Canada to Quito, Ecuador creates as much green house gas as the global average production for everything else for a year.
Flying is the least efficient, most damaging method of travel. Aircraft emissions are especially harmful because they spread a toxic cocktail of gasses directly into the upper atmosphere. And it is getting worse.
The aviation industry is growing at about 12% per year, and represents the fastest growing source of greenhouse gasses in the world. Despite its devastating impact, many countries do not include the industry's international aircraft emissions in carbon calculations.
Aviation emissions are also not included in international climate treaties like Kyoto as the industry has been protected from taking responsibility for their impact for decades.
This damaging industry has always been heavily subsidized, making tickets much cheaper than they should be. The 1944 Chicago Convention ruled that no government can levy a tax on aviation fuel. In the U.K. alone, aviation receives the equivalent of a 10 billion pound tax subsidy annually.
If you do fly, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the resulting climate damage. The following are suggestions for balancing the impact of long-haul flights such as from Vancouver to Australia:
- Plant three trees for every 4000 miles of air travel.
- Eat vegetarian for a year.
- Ride your bicycle for a year.
- Switch to a green energy provider for electricity and heat.
There is no such thing as sustainable high-speed, long-distance jet travel. The best way to reduce your travel carbon footprint is to not fly.
Choose instead, a slower, more efficient alternative. Slower forms of travel are more relaxing and enjoyable anyway.