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Airlines, Emissions, Offsetting & Access to Data

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As published in a press release on Green Lodging News, OAG just issued a report entitled, “How Green is Your Airline?” According to the International Council on Clean Transport, aviation accounts for 2.4 percent of global CO2 emissions. With an increasing number of people flying every year, that percentage is not going to go down. “The industry faces the real possibility that it could become a toxic brand within the next decade,” OAG says. The hotel industry of course has a lot at stake if air travel is demonized.

One way to address the impact of air travel is through carbon offsetting. According to the OAG report, however, Austrian Airlines has been offering carbon offsetting for some time but fewer than 1 percent of passengers pay to offset their carbon emissions. Similarly, KLM offers a CO2ZERO scheme for carbon offsetting but in 2018 only 88,000 passengers travelled carbon neutral. That’s fewer than 0.5 percent of all passengers carried by KLM.

Airplanes are becoming more fuel efficient. According to Airbus, CO2 emissions for today’s aircraft are 80 percent lower than they were back in 1970. Because fuel efficiency and other technological advancements have not been enough to reduce overall emissions, however, airlines have resorted to their own offsetting schemes. For example, British Airways began offsetting emissions on all UK domestic flights beginning January 1 of this year.

The idea of taxing flights is gaining momentum. Meanwhile, OAG says consumers don’t have enough information available to them to make environmentally wise choices about air travel. So what do consumers need from airlines? OAG says, “While airline annual reports and presentations to investors are full of what they are doing to be greener, it seems that there is a need for new industry-wide metrics which allow consumers to make informed choices that go beyond whether to fly or not, but how to choose one airline over another.”

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