Will you stop flying to help save the climate? That is the question that is rapidly rising up the political agenda, in Europe, at least, as a surge in climate activism and awareness, fuelled by the daily dose of alarming climate science, is forcing people to change their travel habits to reduce their own carbon footprint. The problem is that, as the science demands we radically reduce carbon emissions, the number of passenger aircraft is set to double by 2035. Every day, the aviation industry consumes 5 million barrels of oil every day. Worldwide, flights produced a whopping 859 million tonnes of CO2 in 2017. And unlike other sectors, where it is easier to switch to alternative fuels, as an article in the Conversation pointed out, “there is currently no way to fly 8m people every day without burning lots of dirty kerosene.” It continued: “Aircraft are becoming more fuel-efficient, but not quickly enough to offset the huge demand in growth. Electric planes remain decades away, weighed down by batteries that can’t deliver nearly as much power per kilo as jet fuel.” Last month, Bloomberg reported that the “shame connected with traveling on airplanes that guzzle fossil fuels may now be having a real impact on travel patterns.” One Swedish airline, which operates 10 airports, has seen year-on-year passenger numbers drop for seven consecutive months. Last year, Sweden had its weakest overall growth in passenger numbers in a decade.
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