As flight shaming impacts airlines Co2 offset costs rise

The adults don’t like the teenager from Sweden. They don’t like that she – and many of her generation are looking at them and saying about climate change, “you saw this coming and you didn’t do anything”.

And the fact is they know she’s right and they don’t like being told. Well I did say and I paid so I don’t feel as bad. Frankly I admire her. But it’s my generation that didn’t do enough, left it too long and now it’s pretty much too late. If you’re over 25 what have you done to really make a difference?

That’s the question now being poked painfully in the eye of every Co2 producing industry on the planet.

The airlines get the finger pointed at them because they are one of the biggest visible contributors. Their Co2 is also the most damaging- delivered high in the atmosphere where none of the surface level amelioration systems, man made or natural, actually work.

The airlines know they have to find a way of dealing with it. In the US they’re looking at it costing $3.8 billion a year in carbon offsets, and for some airlines costs are expected to reach 27% of their profit per seat by 2025.&

And that figure is just for leisure travellers. Nobody as yet, has counted the cost of business travel.

In Europe airlines offer passengers the chance to offset their Co2 by volunteering a small contribution of a few Euros per ticket. Less than 2% of passengers pay it.

Rather than pay that fee, pressure from teens and young adults is having its impact – especially in countries where climate change is very visible.

They’re persuading their families not to fly at all. Across Scandinavia bookings over the winter are down 15% – up from 5% a year ago. It’s a similar story in Germany, Holland, and even said to be impacting Switzerland and Austria who are seeing their snow and glaciers vanish. New figures are due in January.

Airlines feel they’re getting the brunt of the criticism and don’t think it’s fair. But it isn’t just them – automotive is being hit hard. Diesel engines are going out of fashion and electric is growing every year.

Yet airlines have a way of communicating what they can and are doing – they have press and PR, captive passengers sat in seats for hours at a time who can be messaged on screen at will or made to hear announcements. But they don’t do it.

Thanks to MyFlightRadar24 I have logged every flight I’ve ever taken. 37 tons of Co2 is the result. Just me. Add to that the 600,000km I’ve driven at an average of 150g/km and that’s another 9,000 tons of Co2. The 37 seems quite small, and it is, relatively. Just imagine what that would look like as a giant block of stone sat on your drive. it’s about the size of a typical 40 ton container truck.

And that’s the problem for airlines – they actually produce relatively little per kilometre – compared to driving a petrol or diesel car. But it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t offset what they do produce. Everyone should, all of the time.

The trouble for airlines is they are expected to lead the way because that’s what they’re always saying they do in every other field, and that’s how the public perceive them.

I’m not going to stop flying. It’s one of the most amazing things mankind has achieved – but we do take it for granted.

Aviation as an industry brings benefits in excess of its costs to the environment – BUT that doesn’t mean that cost shouldn’t be as low as possible, and everything done to keep it lower.

So what will you do? Pay that offset cost the next time you book a ticket for one.