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Flying - how much is too much?

Craze_b0i

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2008
Does anyone know what the average carbon footprint is for European/north-american flyers? In other words... how far can you fly in total before you are producing more than your fair share of carbon?

Using this handy website I tried a few calculations on flights from London, going to typical destinations like Bangkok, Miami or Prague. These are the carbon emissions:

2.195 tonnes: a direct round trip from LON to BKK
1.641 tonnes: a direct round trip from LON to MIA
0.295 tonnes: a direct round trip from LON to PRG

So flying from London it seems I can make up to SEVEN return flights to Prague (or another European city) and still produce less emissions than ONE return flight to Thailand.
"Let's see if we can enjoy this recession. i enjoyed most of the previous ones."
- Zoomcharlieb.

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KateL57

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  • Added on: April 9th, 2008
Interesting. I am not really the person to critically assess this or anything, but I guess it means that I am doing a lot more damage than I think with my one flight a year across the Atlantic!

I guess there could be something to be said for cross-ocean flight compared to other ones though...London to Prague would obviously be a really lengthy ground journey, but there are some which people fly that are actually "more unnecessary" if ground transport is available.

I have myself been on two NY - DC flights in the last year (both of them connections, I never booked just that flight), for example. This is like a 35 minute flight, and the bus takes 4-5 hours. I took the bus once, and suspect that many people who fly that route just would not take the bus...but if it were just a little faster, it would be very comparable to the time it takes to fly with getting to the airport and such.
Make cay, not war - Kesmen

HampdenHoop

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2008
The first question is, what is someone's "fair share"? I've seen statistics on the average carbon footprint for various countries and the US is at top in total emissions and near the top per capita. I just did the whole calculation on the Carbon Footprint site and came up with 12.3 tonnes. That's well below the US average, a bit above the industrial nations average, and includes return flights to Europe and Mexico last year.

Obviously, North Americans (US and Canadians according to the statistics) are terribly wasteful. But in regard to traveling and flying, we're at a disadvantage compared to Europeans if we want to see more than our own country or continent. I fly when it's the only practical option for getting where I want to go. But I virtually never fly if I can get someplace overland within 24 hours or so.

You can always do better in terms of having less impact. I do better than most of my compatriots but there's more I could do and plan to do over time. But I'm not going to give up traveling. However, I am going to buy some carbon offsets - better than nothing, right? Smile

halfnine

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2008
quote:
The first question is, what is someone's "fair share"?


I don't know what "fair share" is but I'd say if you want to consider yourself "pretty green" then your footprint would have to be lower than at least half the people in the world. So, if you live in the more modern countries of the world, good luck to you.

Craze_b0i

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2008
Hampdenhoop I did the full calculation as well, I did it based on my activities last year:

Your Carbon Footprint:
tonnes of CO2
House 1.630
Flights 1.039
Car 0.000
Motorbike 0.000
Bus & Rail 0.169
Secondary 3.535
Total 6.373

Kate and Hampdenhoop, I agree with what you both say, that it is harder for Americans and Canadians to avoid flying. First because your home countries are so vast and secondly you don't have that many trains and railways.

In reply to halfnine: you are quite right, it is all relative. Even those who try to fly less and try to be environmental are still producing a much larger 'share' than the millions who live in developing countries. What the implications of this will be long-term and how drastically consumer lifestyles will have to change is hard to say...
"Let's see if we can enjoy this recession. i enjoyed most of the previous ones."
- Zoomcharlieb.

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