What’s my carbon footprint like when I fly?

For those of you conscious about how much your air travel needs are harming the environment, you may be wondering how big your personal carbon footprint is when you fly. Well, we can tell you – it’s not great. But (and it’s a reasonable sized but) it’s probably not half as bad as you think. 

To work this out you would need to gather the information on the amount of fuel used on your flight, your distance travelled, and the proportionate amount of space taken up by your seat on the plane and then convert these figures through a series of equations to find your footprint in Metric Tons of CO2.

Thankfully, the lovely people at carbonfootprint.com have created a handy little calculator so you don’t need to. 

So if we take an average flight in economy class from London to New York (3,600 statute miles), the carbon footprint for that flight works out at 0.44 Metric Tons of CO2. 

What does that mean though? Well, let’s compare it for the same journey if taken by road (the imaginary 3,600 mile long road between London and New York that is). For an average saloon car the footprint is 0.99 Metric tons of CO2 which is considerably greater than that of the journey by air. Admittedly, you can put more than one person in a car and with 4 people in the car it works out at 0.25 tons per person. 

So, yes – it would be less polluting to make a similar distance journey by car but not by as much as you might think.

If you’d like to see what your carbon footprint is like then you can do so using the calculator here. 

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