Let’s be real: flying is awful for the environment. It’s not all equal – private planes are worse than passenger jets and long-haul flights are worse than shorter ones – but in general, you’re never doing the planet any favours by hopping on a plane.
This obviously presents a bit of a problem for airlines, whose current business model is basically incompatible with keeping the global climate on the rails. Which is why an increasing number of carriers are making serious noises about ‘sustainable aviation’, and launching initiatives that help make flying look at least a little less damaging.
The latest to do so is British Airways, which has launched a new tool to tell you exactly how bad your flight is for the environment – and maybe help you do something about it.
BA says it is aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and as part of that push, the airline is launching a partnership with climate tech company CHOOOSE that tells passengers how much CO2 their trip will emit.
The project is called CO2llaborate and it doesn’t just tot up emissions: it also gives passengers the chance to (supposedly) reduce their carbon footprint. They can choose to do this either by buying sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), carbon offsets or a combination of the two.
The new system is essentially a more explanatory and detailed version of BA’s current carbon offsetting scheme, which lets passengers pay to offset the CO2 caused by their trip.
CO2llaborate is available to both individual customers and companies using BA’s services. Here’s a screenshot of how it calculates the emissions of a return flight from London to Tokyo.
You can use the tool either before or after you fly – so if you did want to work through your whole travel history and offset every flight, that’s totally doable.
Now, if it sounds to you like BA’s new tool might be a sneaky way to deflect blame for the climate crisis from corporations onto customers… well, you might have a point. It helps to be sceptical of carbon offsets, which, as Greenpeace notes, often amount to little more than greenwashing. Ultimately, an individual consumer is unlikely to be able to make as much difference to the environment as an entire airline. Or indeed an airport, such as Amsterdam Schiphol: the first that’s said it will limit flights to combat climate change.
Still, it’s definitely good to know how your flight is impacting the planet. You can muck around with CO2llaborate and look up the environmental cost of flight routes here. Or, of course, choose a greener alternative… like Europe’s swanky new network of night trains. Catch you on Platform 6!
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