- Issue: Summer 2021
Globally, commercial air travel accounts for around 2.5% of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels—and before the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact was rapidly growing. As more and more people take to the skies, scientists project that without advances in airplane efficiency and industry-wide regulations, commercial aviation emissions could triple by 2050.
To address this issue, WWF and its partners are advocating for climate-conscious industry practices and stronger government policies, with the goal of helping international airlines reduce emissions from their supply chains and operations by 50% by 2050. Proposed policy solutions include taxes for frequent flyers or those who fly first class and robust CO efficiency standards for airplanes and jet fuel. Experts are also urging governments to invest in less carbon-intensive transportation plans, such as modernizing the US passenger train network.
In 2020, the pandemic caused flight numbers to fall by half, resulting in record drops in global emissions and offering a glimpse of what a more sustainable future could look like: business conducted remotely, road trips instead of flights, and people finding new ways to stay connected. As the pandemic subsides, so too will travel restrictions, giving us the chance to adopt more mindful travel habits going forward.
In addition to Nicaragua, there are 55 other countries where the average person generates less than 986 kg of CO2 annually.
One person flying round trip from New York City to London generates more CO2 than the average person in Nicaragua produces in a year.*
The average round trip flight from NYC to London is approximately 15 hours or .6 days.
*Figure based on the average occupancy of the typical plane used on this route