International air travel accounts for about 2 per cent of the world’s climate emissions. The aviation industry, fortunately, is working hard to reduce its effects on climate. For instance, according to the 2016 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Environmental Report, aircraft produced today are about 80 percent more fuel efficient per passenger kilometer than in the 1960s. In 2017, the international aviation industry signed its own climate deal, CORSIA, which aims at halving emissions by 2050.
Flying can, however, contribute to a significant portion of a consumer’s yearly carbon footprint. If you’re interested in finding out the climate emissions produced by your flight, there are several emissions calculators available online. Here are some of the most popular ones:
The emissions calculator provided by the ICAO uses publicly available data about the most popular plane types flown between different destinations and calculations of their average fuel consumption.
Besides calculating an estimate of the carbon footprint per passenger, you’ll also see the data the calculation is based on: the length of the journey, the typical aircraft types and an estimate of the average fuel consumption.
For instance, for a one-way trip in economy class from Helsinki to Tokyo, ICAO’s calculator estimates one person’s carbon footprint to be 279.9 kilograms of carbon dioxide, which is equal to about 2.8% of an average Finn’s yearly footprint.
2. Carbon Neutral Flights
Carbon Neutral Flights is an emissions calculator provided by a private environmental consultancy Carbon Neutral Ltd. It’s easy to use and is based on publicly available data and estimates on greenhouse gas emissions.
A one-way Helsinki-Tokyo flight is estimated at 570 kilograms of carbon dioxide. The calculator also gives you different options for compensating your emissions by donating to projects that reduce carbon dioxide such as wind power or reforestation projects.
3. Carbon Neutral Calculator
Carbon Neutral Calculator estimates emissions either based on distances between the departure and arrival airports or by choosing a flight distance category: short, medium or long haul.
The calculator is provided by an environmental consultancy company Natural Capital Partners. For the Helsinki-Tokyo flight, it estimates an emissions load of about 660 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
The same site also allows you to calculate the carbon emissions of your household or driving.
4. Airlines’ own emissions calculators
Many airlines also provide their own emissions calculators based on their own data. The results will apply only for that airline’s flights but will most likely be more accurate than those provided by general calculators. Here are a few examples:
Finnair’s emissions calculator is based on the company’s own data on fuel consumption, passenger numbers and cargo loads. It estimates a one-way trip from Helsinki to Tokyo at 499.29 kilograms of carbon dioxide per passenger, which is equal to roughly 5% of an average Finn’s yearly footprint.
Lufthansa’s calculator gives an estimate of 602 kilograms of CO2 for the same trip. Lufthansa also offers options for compensating the emissions by donating to carbon neutrality projects. For the Helsinki–Tokyo trip, the suggested donation is 12 euros.
SAS offers two different calculators for passengers. The simple one calculates the carbon footprint of the flight, and the broader one also the other environmental emissions from the trip. The warming effect on the environment of air transport is bigger than just the carbon dioxide effect.