High Flyers’ Legroom Generates More Emissions

economy class travelNo news that first-class passengers have deeper pockets than economy flyers.  Now the World Bank confirms their carbon footprint is about sevenfold that of the average airborne Joe.

The new study appears as airliners are juggling paradoxical goals: maximize in-flight luxuries while “greening up” operations.  How to market modern air travel that’s free from environmental migraines?

Global air travel spewed 689 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, according to the Air Transport Action Group.  That’s 2% of the world’s total emissions and 12% of all generated by transport.  Compare that to ground transportation which accounts for 74% of total transport emissions.   (Aviation is a dirty industry, but cars and trucks remain the biggest polluters.)

People occupy less aircraft real estate when squished into “coach” seating.  More passengers-per-plane equals lower per capita carbon emissions.  As reported in the Christine Science Monitor, with more people to bear the fuel-burn burden, the economy in “economy class” is as environmental as it is financial.  First-class seats are more likely than economy seats to remain unsold, raising their carbon tab even higher.

“The problem with this argument is that the footprint of a passenger on a commercial flight depends more on the space taken up by the passenger, and less on how much the passenger (and luggage) weighs,” Jon Strand, a senior economist at World Bank, wrote on the organization’s blog.

His point being that the weight of those sardine-like passengers with their overstuffed luggage reduces the plane’s fuel-efficiency.  But since that only accounts for 15-20% of loaded aircraft weight, this theory that passenger weight is a critical factor doesn’t fly.

It’s not the passengers’ plight, anyway.  Those airline programs to that encourage flyers to offset emissions by paying into carbon funds really burn me up. Sure, consumers can elect to progress specific initiatives using their purchasing power , but the responsibility to clean up the industry lies with the industry.

Some aircraft manufacturers are exploring lightweight materials and maximally efficient engines and electrical systems. Others are making advances in operations, coordinating with airports to build power plug-ins that allow planes to shut off auxiliary engines during loading, unloading, and cleaning; saving jet fuel and reducing emissions.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner saves 20% on fuel compared to planes of similar sizes, but it’s been plagued with technical difficulties. Consider next the Airbus A380, a super jumbo jet also with green aspirations. But when they’re purchased by Saudi princes as private jets to fly a handful of friends and family, no level of aircraft leanness will render them carbon-friendly.

It will be interesting to see if the like of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Airlines (he pledged $3 BIL to green up aviation) or Canada’s Air Transat (the first certified green airline by World Green Aviation Council) manage to solve the luxury versus reduced environmental impact conundrum.

In the meantime, at least there’s an environmental reason to feel pretty good about squeezing in coach.

Image of crowded commercial flight from OutTravelers

About Laurie Balbo

At university, she was annoyed that her architecture degree was called a Bachelor of Environmental Design. As a working architect, she was annoyed that projects weren’t designed with more environmental consideration.She’s a usually-annoyed architect and sustainability specialist who hopes that venting her frustrations will make a positive environmental difference. Her husband just hopes it makes her less annoyed. Born in the United States, Laurie has managed design and managed construction of ports and airports in New York, Dublin and now Amman. She blogs on knitting and other arcane topics at www.fibermeister.comLaurie can be reached at [email protected]

10 thoughts on “High Flyers’ Legroom Generates More Emissions”

  1. 貴重な 情報。 幸運 唖然と驚い | 私は私が 偶然偶然、および|あなたのウェブサイトのウェブサイトサイトを私私が発見した私が見つかりました。なぜこの一致 | 行われました なかったがなかったです!私はそれをブックマークし。
    全国一律送料無料 店内全品ポイント10倍

  2. こんにちは、私が感じる私はその| ブログ したがって ソー気づいはあなたが私を訪れた私は来ましたにリターン 好意 私は?しよう 問題私のウェブサイト!| 高める改善の を利用するために使用すること あなたコンセプト !!
    欠品廃盤の場合納品不可 3日間限定

  3. こんにちは、私が感じる私はその| サイト したがって ソー気づいはあなたが私を訪れた私は来ましたに戻る 好む 私は?しよう 見つける もの私のウェブサイト!| 高める改善の を利用するために使用すること あなたコンセプト !!
    3日間限定 上品な高級感漂う

  4. I 単に できませんでした 出発あなたサイト 前私は非常にことを示唆している楽しんで 通常 情報 人 提供 のお客様|あなた} {訪問者に? 検査で調べる | するために 連続 | 再度は| つもりつもりされています新しい投稿
    最短当日発送可 セール対象商品

  5. おかげについて 提供配信 のこの種のこのような 素晴らしい ポスト。
    [url=http://www.homesweethomebusiness.com]店内全品ポイント10倍 完全な仕様 ランキング[/url]

  6. によって私のいとここの | 示唆推奨 | 私がいた私があることを使用しました。 私は もはや 正 かどうかをこのポストはで| |ビアを介して 他彼により誰のような知る|認識|理解|認識designated 約 トラブル。 信じられない | あなたにしているあなたは! !
    [url=http://www.gracja.info]店内全品ポイント10倍 5☆大好評[/url]

  7. あなたたちはある何あまりにも私は楽しむ。 のこのタイプ カバレッジは賢い仕事と!私| |私たち||私の個人 私がした働く男良いを続けてください。
    [url=http://www.mamakboschservisleri.net]絶対低価格 店内全品ポイント10倍[/url]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × 1 =