Even if you regularly eschew meat-eating and take public transportation, all your efforts at reducing your carbon footprint can be easily outweighed by indulging in one of the other biggest individual contributions to climate change: Flying. Most advice on lowering your carbon footprint notes that flying is bad, and stops there. But The New York Times has some more specific guidelines on how to pick and choose your air travel.
- Instead of taking short flights, drive. The shorter the flight, the higher percentage of fuel wasted on take-off and landing.
- Buy carbon offsets. Search for your airline’s official offset program, which will be verified by watchdog groups, but might not be visible when you book your flight.
- Fly economy. The more tightly packed you are, the less fuel you’re using.
- Close your window shade. In warm weather, this makes it easier to cool the plane. And cooling is another big contributor to climate change.
- Choose an efficient airline. This environmental report ranks the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines operating in the Pacific. Qantas didn't do so well.
Driving and flying have about the same climate impact per passenger kilometre, but the data is complicated and varies widely based on passenger count, vehicle fuel efficiency, and the type of driving. So there’s no simple cutoff point for deciding when to fly or drive. Thankfully, efficiency is improving for both.