aeroplane CO2

Flying and your carbon footprint

Everything we do, from the food we eat, products we buy to the way we travel, releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and so has an impact on the planet’s climate. But some activities have a far greater impact than others.

Around 2.4% of global CO2 emissions come from aviation. Together with other gases and the water vapour trails produced by aircraft, the industry is responsible for around 5% of global warming.

16 year-old athlete Innes Fitzgerald has turned down the chance to compete in the World Cross Country Championships, as she says she cannot justify flying in a climate crisis. The contest is in Australia, thousands of miles from the long distance runner’s home in Devon.

Fitzgerald wrote a letter to British Athletics, explaining that travelling fills her “with deep concern”.

“I would never be comfortable flying in the knowledge that people could be losing their livelihoods, homes and loved ones as a result,” her letter says.

“The least I can do is voice my solidarity with those suffering on the front line of climate breakdown.”

What is flight shame?

“The flight shame movement is about feeling accountable for your carbon footprint – but it is also about rediscovering the joy of slow travel,” writes Jocelyn Timperley for, adding “flying is probably the most carbon-intensive activity you can do, on an hour-to-hour basis.”

Find out more about ‘flight shame’:


Could the future of flying hold some good news?

World’s first all-electric passenger aircraft has taken to the skies in a four minute test flight.

Aviation is one of the fastest rising sources of carbon emissions from transport, but can a small Canadian airline show the industry a way of flying that is better for the planet?

Harbour Air, which has a fleet of some 40 commuter floatplanes serving the coastal regions around Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle, was the first airline in North America to become carbon-neutral through offsets in 2007. A one-acre green roof on their new Victoria airline terminal followed. Then in 2017, 50 solar panels and four beehives housing 10,000 honeybees were added, but for McDougall, a Tesla owner with an interest in disruptive technology, the big goal was to electrify the fleet.

“It was the first shot of the electric aviation revolution,” says Roei Ganzarski, chief executive of magniX, which worked with Canadian airline Harbour Air Seaplanes to convert one of the aircraft in their fleet of seaplanes so it could run on battery power rather than fossil fuels.

For Greg McDougall, founder of Harbour Air and pilot during the test flight, it marked the culmination of years of trying to put the environment at the forefront of its operations.