Climate Killer Flying - How harmful is flying?

Climate Killer Flying Part 2: Smart (air) travel, three tips.

Esther Nestle
02.08.2019
2 pictures
5 minutes

How can passengers reconcile climate protection and their own flying habits? Here are a few thought-provoking ideas.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t care in the least about climate and environmental protection. Among my friends and acquaintances some even try to avoid any take-off for the sake of the environment. But even they don’t manage to live a completely aviation-free Life. If their job requires it – should they quit their job  for the sake of the environment? Or because the best friend in the world lives on another continent – should friendship be sacrificed to climate conscience? 

Thinking in black and white terms leads to a dead end

Examples in my circle of friends and acquaintances already show how absurd a radical renunciation is. The global interdependence of the labour market and the economy account for a large part of our modern life. Nobody can and will turn back the wheel here. In fact, international contacts and friendships all over the world are a valuable asset beyond all economic and private aspects. Anyone who looks beyond their own national horizons and “dares” to look into foreign countries and cultures develops a deeper understanding of what is supposedly foreign and makes an important contribution to intercultural communication.

Three tips for smart travelling 

To me, the key lies in travelling wisely. In my research, three aspects became important to me: firstly, air fares, secondly, travel distances and thirdly the possibility of compensation.

1. Airfares: Fewer cheap flights 

A hot potato! One that hurts us ordinary passengers. Don’t we like to jet to Paris for 39 Euro to go shopping on weekends, or to Brindisi at the Adriatic for 28 Euro to have a quick dive? Just in this second I read: “Flights to Mallorca now for 16 Euro”. Well then…

A look behind the scenes and good to know:

The first example, Frankfurt Hahn – this airport is 123 kilometres outside of Frankfurt/Germany.

Second example, Memmingen – this airport is 146 kilometres outside of Stuttgart/Germany.

(*) The transfers cause significant time losses and stretch the already tight time budget of  short trips. Is the benefit really as high as the advertising suggests?

Anyway, I discovered something positive. Cheap airlines don’t travel around with older = particularly polluting fleets. Rather the opposite is the case. Because cost-intensive kerosene centrifuges do not fit into the concept of cheap airlines. High efficiency is the key to this business model.

2. Travel distances: More train and bus

Unfortunately, the railways are not doing a particularly good job in terms of punctuality and reliability. In most cases it costs more. Another real alternative is the long-distance bus, such as the FlixBus run by the German long-distance bus company. l. I’m curious to see whether I’ll still remain true to my intentions.

3. Compensations: Offset CO2 emissions

With a compensation payment I have the chance to make up for my CO2 emissions:

After filling in the start and destination airports, the emission calculator prints out my CO2 emissions and converts them into a compensation sum. The money is then used for a climate protection project to offset the negative effects of my flight on the climate. 

Myclimate and Atmosfair are among the most respected compensation agencies. On their pages you will find a lot of information about already financed compensation projects. 

Calculation example: At Myclimate, CO2 compensation for a flight from Stuttgart to Barcelona costs eleven euros per person. Atmosfair charges 13 euros. Both are absolutely manageable amounts!

Malicious tongues claim that the compensation payments are primarily there to calm our guilty conscience. I would certainly not like such CO2 compensation payments to be understood as a carte blanche for flat rate flying (“All you can fly”), but rather as a reasonable supplementary measure for climate-conscious (air) travellers who first weigh up all the pros and cons and examine alternatives before embarking on their next flight.

So this is my learning curve as Ms Average Air Traveller. I have the feeling that my learning curve has not yet reached its final altitude. You can find the article climate killer part 2 here and at some point, part 3 would become due. Well, let’s see. What is your opinion on the topic? I am looking forward to your reactions.

by Esther Nestle

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