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Frequently Asked Questions
According to relevant data, in 2017 the overall global flight traffic emitted more than 859 million tons of CO₂, which is responsible for approx. 2% of all the global man-made CO₂ emissions. But it does not stop there. Flying also emits non-carbon emissions like ozone, soot particles, and nitrogen oxide that, when emitted at altitudes over 8km (5.5 miles), account for ca. 4% to 5% of global warming.
How much CO₂ a single plane emits depends on factors like aircraft type, distance traveled, and passenger load.
Flight compensation is a means to “make up for” the CO₂ emissions that were used to fly a passenger to their final destination by allowing the passenger to contribute to projects that will either remove existing CO₂ from the atmosphere (e.g. planting trees) or reduce future CO₂ emissions (e.g. solar farms or research into sustainable aviation fuel).
Many organizations and companies – including some airline companies – have CO₂ calculators that let you calculate how much CO₂ your flight has emitted and then offset your portion of those emissions. The most important thing to remember is that if you choose to offset your flight, make sure your money is helping fund a validated project. Look for projects that have e.g. the CDM Gold Standard and VCS certification labels, which means their environmental effects are closely monitored.
You will be able to offset CO2 through these certified projects directly through myCiity soon – we are in the final stages of certifications!
Taking most of the common forms of transportation into account – plane, train, car, biking and walking – it’s no surprise that biking and walking are the least CO₂-intensive ways to get around. Some say that biking actually emits less than walking because we require less food-fueled energy to go the same distance by bike than by foot, which translates into fewer CO₂ emissions that went into growing, packaging and transporting the food. (If you want to dig even deeper, you can also factor in CO₂ emitted from our bodies during the walk/bike ride, which would be fewer on the bike ride because, even though we may be breathing harder, we would still be breathing less overall in that distance than walking.)
Of course, it’s hard for most people to bike or walk longer distances. Between planes, trains and cars, trains emit the least CO₂ by far. According to one study, a trip from London to Edinburgh emits 282 lbs. CO₂eq by plane, 220 lbs. CO₂eq by car and only 46 lbs. CO₂eq by train.
Say you do a flight search and calculate your options via a CO2 calculator and you have two good possibilities: one that emits 2,259 kg of CO₂ and one that emits 1,885kg CO₂ (19% less). So how does this 374kg difference in CO₂ compare to the rest of your carbon footprint? According to various calculators, an 374kg (19%) CO₂ reduction is the equivalent of driving a passenger car 1496 kilometers.
Unfortunately, the aviation industry is excluded from the Paris Climate Agreement. Currently, aviation accounts for roughly 2% of the global CO2 emissions.
The amount of air travel passengers is expected to double in the next twenty years – albeit 2020 reductions. Air travel technologies aren’t keeping up with that growth. Therefore, it’s expected that emissions in aviation will increase.
Also, your flight contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. But there’s a way to compensate for these emissions, namely by carbon offsetting.
While we also hope that electric planes and biofuel technologies will develop soon, it’s expected that this will take a few years to decades. To reach climate goals, we should act now.
Carbon offsetting works with a certain carbon offset scheme that allows individuals and companies to invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out their own carbon footprints. You can do so as an individual or as a company. (See also flight compensation)
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