How Green is Flying?

One of Europe’s leading budget airlines, EasyJet, has claimed that people who really care about the environment should use it. This attracted the attention of the UK’s Channel Four Factcheck team. Their verdict?

EasyJet’s business model keeps costs as low as possible, which means that the consumption of environment-hurting, carbon-emitting fuel is also kept as low, per passenger, as possible.

It also invests heavily in new planes, which are more energy-efficient than older stock.

But the success of this business model means that flying becomes more affordable and more planes go into the air, which doesn’t help the environment.

The short-haul and domestic flights in which low-cost airlines specialise are also those journeys which are more likely to be made by other less-polluting forms of transport, such as bus or boat.

A less snappy, though more accurate, claim would be, “If you care about the environment and really have to fly, it’s better to fly on a fuller plane than an emptier one”.

But if you really care about the environment, it’s questionable whether you should be flying at all, however efficient the plane.

Amen, brother. The “green” choice is uncomfortable, slow or both. Of course, we could reduce those greenhouse gas emissions considerably by significant reform of the world’s Air Traffic Control systems to allow for free flight.