Resources Sustainable Industrial Practices Sustainable Practices in Transport Industry

Air travel growth suggests ‘sustainable’ and ‘development’ are not compatible

Sustainable Practices in Transport Industry

Summary

Air travel is not the only threat to life on earth, but it is a useful barometer of runaway economic growth and development that, if allowed to continue unmitigated, will irreparably harm the planet

Perspectives and insights

  • Airbus has predicted that over the next 20 years the number of commercial aircraft in operation around the world would double.
  • Since 1990, technological advances have indeed cut aircraft fuel consumption per passenger kilometer by half. But at the same time the number of passenger flights quadrupled, to 4.2 billion a year, nullifying any gains in efficiency. By 2037 there will be more than 8 billion flights a year.
  • A study revealed that between 2013 and 2018 the volume of carbon dioxide emitted by airlines increased 32%. The growth was “largely coming from people who haven’t accessed air travel in the past [and] in the notion of what we’re going to do to protect our planet there has to be a notion of equity.

Xoologue - a discussion between Xoo and Moo

Moo: I recently read that a round trip between Singapore & New York by air consumes as much energy per traveller that’s equal to using a 1 ton AC as for 24 hours a day for one full year. Sounds like an exaggerated estimate.

Xoo: Not at all, Moo. If you go by energy equivalence, what you have mentioned is a fairly accurate estimate.

Moo: Well then, It feels almost criminal to fly, Xoo.

Xoo: Yet there are close to 40 million flights each year. Assuming each flight carries an average 100 people, 4 billion person trips are made by air each year.

Moo: Surely a good proportion of flying can be eliminated?

Xoo: Without a doubt, Moo. With digital technologies and Internet providing such a real and almost business meeting experience, I foresee significant reduction in business air travel.

Moo: But what about people who love to fly? How can we get them to reduce the amount of air travel?

Xoo: In many experience, Moo, there’s one lever that has almost always worked to shape behaviour.

Moo: And that is?

Xoo: Price.