by Emma Featherstone, The Telegraph, September 17, 2019
Almost two thirds of people want to know how much pollution their flight will produce when they book, according to a new poll.
Sixty five per cent of those surveyed agreed that airlines should dispay carbon emissions at booking, when asked on behalf of Friends of the Earth. Most airlines do not provide this information.
The environmental group is calling on carriers to make carbon emissions public at booking so that customers can make better informed travel choices.
Aaron Kiely, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Major train websites [including Trainline and LOCO2] show carbon pollution, so why can’t airlines do the same?”
“Giving people more information about the journeys they take can prompt them to make greener choices about their travel – maybe even deciding against that long-haul break for just a few days or look at a train instead to assess the cost, in pounds and carbon, of a journey.”
More than 2,000 people living in the UK were polled. Among those who did not agree that carbon emissions should be displayed, 17 per cent thought that airlines should not show the figure and 18 per cent did not know.
The charity contacted a cross-section of airlines that offer flights on the popular London-New York route. While the carbon emissions of travelling to European destinations can be much reduced by taking trains, it is harder to find alternative, lower carbon travel options to the US.
As such, being able to compare carbon emissions between different airlines, perhaps with the option to carbon offset your flight with the carrier, could help consumers make more eco-friendly choices.
Friends of the Earth asked airlines whether during the booking process (on or offline) they make available information about the carbon dioxide emissions per flight. The airlines contacted included British Airways, KLM, American Airlines, Norwegian, Virgin Atlantic, Air France and Lufthansa.
The only airline that confirmed it did offer carbon emission details during the booking process was KLM.
KLM told Telegraph Travel it has included such information in the ticket booking process for 11 years.
Since 2008, its passengers have been offered a way to offset their flight emissions. According to KLM, 88,000 passengers offset the carbon emissions of their flight through this service in 2018, a 50 per cent increase on the number that did so in 2017.
Virgin Atlantic does not offer passengers this function, but it told Telegraph Travel it was looking into providing carbon emission information in the booking process.
A spokesperson said: “We fully support the concept of customers seeing their carbon emissions when they book their travel and are working with our technology teams to make this a reality. Virgin Atlantic has been working hard to reduce its carbon emissions for over 12 years through using more efficient planes, investing in sustainable fuels and supporting a groundbreaking UN led carbon offset scheme for international aviation (CORSIA)."
British Airways does not offer carbon emission information at booking. However, the airline told Telegraph Travel that it offers customers the facility to support low carbon projects in the UK and around the world.
It said its customers are helping BA to reduce the impact on climate change by donating to its partnership, The Carbon Fund, which provides funding for community renewable energy projects in the UK and overseas.
Norwegian does not show carbon emission information during the booking process.
Air France also does not show this information at booking. Customers are given the option to plant a tree – this service is provided at the same stage at which customers choose their seats, decide how much baggage they want and pick their meals.
American Airlines and Lufthansa also do not show carbon emissions during flight bookings.
Telegraph Travel contacted all airlines included for comment.
Flight comparison website Skyscanner highlights to users when reviewing flight options which service and airline is the greenest according to emissions.
The weighted poll of 2,017 adults living in the UK was carried out in early September. Friends of the Earth were not mentioned when respondents were polled.
Inspiration for your inbox
Sign up to Telegraph Travel's new weekly newsletter for the latest features, advice, competitions, exclusive deals and comment.