: the conversation: aviation

Another topic dear to the heart of  Holifield Farm project manager, Robert West, is that of aviation. Amidst the excitement of a holiday or the ease of speedy travel, should the environmental impact of flying be a consideration?

An article by The Guardian, adapted from Duncan Clark’s The Rough Guide to Green Living, explores the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions caused by aviation, theorising that the often quoted ‘1.5%-2%’ could stretch as far as 13%-15%, or beyond.

The article goes on to point out, however, that ‘most people in the UK don’t regularly fly’ and that the emissions are largely due to ‘the air travel of a minority’.

Aside from using alternative modes of transport, or simply flying less, the article recommends ‘picking airlines that are closer to home’ and travelling light, for anyone wanting to make a positive change.

Some good news for those wanting to make such a change is that the most ‘eco-friendly’ flights may well also be the cheapest, as ‘budget airlines pack more passengers on each flight and typically have younger, more fuel-efficient fleets’.

The New York Times’ Tatiana Schlossberg suggests putting money towards replanting trees, or even donating to conservation programs in order to offset some of the impacts on the environment.

But what about the industry itself? In Flying towards a Sustainable Future, Air Transport Action Group’s Michael Gill notes that sustainable alternative fuels can be ‘up to 80% less carbon intensive than traditional fossil-based jet fuel’. Gill also highlights the importance of commercializing said fuels, and the need for governments to ‘put in place the right policy framework’ to help make this happen. Gill asserts that these goals ‘are attainable’, ending his article on the positive assertion that ‘if there’s any sector that has proven it can innovate to achieve what was once thought impossible, it’s the aviation industry.’

What do you think about the role aviation has to play in the quest for a more sustainable world?




2 thoughts on “: the conversation: aviation

  1. Stephanie Robertson

    Excellent article! It’s interesting to explore the potential options for making flying more sustainable, beyond merely flying less. I wonder to what extent though, flying is part of our modern need to get everywhere in a hurry – the fast food option of travel – and if more could be done to make other options more affordable? It’s sad to think people make internal flights in a tiny country like the UK, partly because it’s so much cheaper than the train.

  2. The Holifield Team

    Thank you for your interesting thoughts Stephanie!

    Indeed, flying is a part of our current way of life, and is also often cheaper than other forms of travel, such as rail- and making other options more affordable may go some way to making more ‘sustainable’ travel more attractive.

    This said, there has certainly been some resurgence in ‘sustainable travel’ in general, such as the promotion bicycle usage / car share websites etc, and like the articles referred to noted, the issue is perhaps linked more to a minority of heavy users…

    …Thanks again and please share any more thoughts/ideas you have.

    All the best,

    The Holifield Team

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