058: Reduce your dependency on flying

Cost of taking action: £/$/€ NIL

The harm aviation causes to our environment

Like all transport, aircraft produce polluting gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide, as well as particulates and noise pollution. Aircraft emissions contribute substantially to concerns over global air quality as well as local air quality.

Airplanes also contribute to climate change by emitting CO2 (carbon dioxide) which is a greenhouse gas. Aviation is currently the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions causing global climate change and already contributes over 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions, or about 12% of carbon dioxide emissions from transport.

An estimated 915 million tonnes of CO2 were produced by flights in 2019.

Aviation is also a major source of ozone which is harmful to human lungs and is believed to have caused thousands of premature deaths each year. Aircraft engines also emit ultrafine particles near airports which can cause lung and heart diseases.

What can we do to stop the harm?

What actions can be taken to reduce emissions from aviation?

There is no simple solution; aircraft are powered by fossil fuels and although electric technology is in development this is not going to impact very quickly, if ever.


The only answer is to reduce the number of flights that operate. We can all contribute to this by taking action:

  • Travel by train instead of an airplane, which is increasingly possible with faster modern trains
  • Holiday closer to home
  • Replace business trips and conferences with virtual conference and virtual meetings
  • Businesses can take a lead: impose short-haul flight bans on employees and discourage long-haul
  • Buy goods and food produced in your own country to reduce cargo flights

Why is this important?

Aviation is a massive creator of greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing global warming and contributing to climate change. We cannot expect to limit climate change if we continue to use aircraft in the way we do now, and in fact aircraft use has increased in recent years.

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall the suppression of aviation is critical as over 2% of globally emitted CO2 is produced by the industry.

Check out this article in The Guardian!

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