It is estimated that the airline industry produces between 2 to 3% of all manmade CO2 emissions. And the number of people flying is on the rise. So how is it possible to offset the impact of this? And can flying be made sustainable in some direct or indirect manner? How can one offset their carbon emissions resulting from flying? And what does this mean exactly? To get to the bottom of some of these questions, which are very pertinent to many of our travel plans, we recently touched base with Jelle Bekirovic founder of FlyGRN. Jelle holds a master’s degree in Energy & Sustainability and was inspired to set it up after he discovered that only a small amount of travellers offset their carbon emissions.
FlyGRN is a flight search engine that uses a portion of its own revenues to offset the carbon emissions of your flight for free. The search engine often finds the lowest price for flights since it searches prices of multiple booking sites at once.
What does “offsetting ones carbon footprint” mean when it comes to flying
It means that we’ll calculate the impact of a flight by using the carbon emission information for air travel from the UK Government (DEFRA). Then we’ll use carbon offset projects that reduce the carbon footprint to balance out the impact of the flight. So, for example, 900 kg of carbon emissions from flying from Amsterdam to NYC can be balanced out by 900 kg of carbon uptake by trees or by building solar panel projects that displace coal energy.
How FlyGRN helps
FlyGRN uses their own revenue from partner income from flight bookings for offsetting the carbon emissions of your flight. Usually we’re able to offset (a portion of) your flight’s emissions in this way. The customer gets the option to offset the rest of their own carbon emissions. When a flight is offset, the customer receives an online carbon certificate, containing information about the project he/she is supporting and what a tonne of carbon means. Here’s an example of a certificate.
Trends visible within the airlines space pointing to greener flying days
The first is that airlines are implementing second generation biofuels (meaning that they use non-food biomass and don’t use food crops). This can reduce up to 80 percent in carbon emissions compared to regular kerosene.
It’s also hopeful that the first small electric planes will be soon operational. Although, it’s expected that electric flying on a larger scale may take a while.
But one of the most hopeful trends is that people are actually finding and using alternative ways of traveling and use the train more often instead of flying, thereby reducing their carbon emissions.
Airlines taking steps in addressing carbon emission
There’s a Dow Jones Sustainability Index for airlines. I know KLM and ANA are usually high on that list.
Final thing I’d like to share is that we always mention that for the environment it’s best not to fly, given the large carbon impact of air travel. That’s why we also give train alternative connections if they are available with a message like: “save carbon and use the train instead of flying”. But in some cases you want to fly or even have to fly. In those cases, there’s FlyGRN, making sure that your carbon is (largely) offset with carbon offset projects that have a positive impact. So when you’re searching a flight ticket, always start your journey at FlyGRN!