The Climate Footprint of Airtravel

The aviation section of the CORE website highlights the key factors that have to be taken into account when calculating air travel emissions for the purpose of climate footprint and offset calculations. We welcome your suggestions and comments.  How should the effect on climate change from air travel be calculated so that an individual or a company can accurately calculate the climate footprint of their current air travel? Companies and individuals are increasingly interested in calculating and minimizing their climate footprint*. Although aviation emissions are small** when compared to other sectors of the economy, air travel can contribute a significant proportion of an individual’s climate footprint. For example, the average European emits about 11 tons of CO2 per year. If a European takes one transatlantic round-trip flight, say from Frankfurt to New York, they will add 0.8 – 2 metric tons*** of CO2 (excluding non-CO2 effects) to their climate footprint. It is important to have an accurate metric to calculate the climate impacts of air travel. Yet calculating air travel’s impact on climate change is a complex task, and the currently available air travel calculator estimates can vary by up to a factor of three. There are two separate issues that have to be taken into account when calculating the climate footprint of an individual air passenger:

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