Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa mocked flight shaming as “fake news”, in a rather bizarre Trump-like twist, more than a little poorly timed, as the United Nations announced that Co2 levels rose a full 1% in just the last year – a record amount.
The total takes Co2 levels to a new high not seen since some 3 million years ago – when temperatures across much of the globe were near sub-tropical and sea levels were 20-30m (60-90ft) higher than they are now.
It’s the speed of the increases in Co2 that are causing so much concern – and that no matter what people say they’ll do about it, reversing the trend seems beyond us.
Carsten Spohr won’t be around in 2099 by which time the planet will be facing some unimaginable changes. Meanwhile airlines are getting the finger pointed at them for the simple reason they aren’t doing enough fast enough, but like to pretend they are.
Air travel is going up in aircraft and flight numbers, with no end in sight. Even with brand new lower emissions aircraft the current rate of increase will see airlines as the biggest emitters in Europe within two to three years, as virtually all coal power plants will be gone by 2023-4.
Airlines are about to begin fighting back hard against the so called flight shaming movement, with a PR campaign that will see new levels of greenwashing but few real results.
RyanAir was recently found for example to show that its carbon offset programme – which just 3% of passengers contributed to, had just 2.6 hectares of land set aside and if planted with trees to the maximum, it would only absorb 0.01% of the airlines annual Co2 output.
If airlines are going to treat the protest movement with disdain, rather than engage and work with them to make everyone’s environment better, they’ll loose. In the long run the young people of today are tomorrow’s non-flyers and that’s bad for airlines and the aviation industry as a whole.
Both sides need to work together for the benefit of all, not just profits for airlines. The writing is on the wall – read it and act or the future of air travel may be taxed and made dramatically less easy and accessible for us all.