KLM taken to court over claims which campaigners claim are misleading – What do you think? Can flights ever be carbon neutral, and how do they compare to other transport?

If an airline promises to remove all the carbon, that your flight emits, from the air – is your flight carbon neutral?

Flying is an incredibly carbon intensive activity – but is there an alternative

Well, in theory it will eventually be. However There are a number of issues with this. Firstly, you rely on accounting of carbon that is totally honest (something that has not been the case) and you have to trust them that they are not going to double count the carbon credits (as has happened many times in recent decades).

One of the big issues with carbon offset, is that it suggests that emitting now, and then recapturing it over the next few decades is alright. The problem, is that we need to reduce carbon emissions now – not just in the future. Carbon capture in forests, is a one time sell, and then needs to stay as forest permanently – something that is unlikely in most countries around the world.

A statement given to the BBC read, “We critically assess all our communications about sustainability, and welcome input from all our stakeholders,” KLM spokesperson Marjan Rozemeijer said, and added “We hope that a court ruling in this case will clarify how best to shape our communications policy.” If the case is won, KLM will have to withdraw all communications along these lines, not use these misleading promises in the future, and issue corrections.

Now, there is a problem! if the worlds population was to simply stop flying tomorrow, we would be roughly 2.1% nearer to our target of cutting carbon emissions to near zero! This is one in 50 of what is needed for net zero, so why not do it? Well, simple; many of the worlds remaining pristine ecosystems are funded through tourism. This means that if you end flight, deforestation will soar, and what does deforestation contribute to humans carbon emissions?


Or roughly 5 times the carbon footprint of flight!

So what can we do?

  1. Well, obviously, flight should only happen when its the only viable option. Fast trains must drop in price, so they can compete with the price of cheap planes – much of Europe if connected with fast trains, would be faster on the ground than in the air.
  2. The increase in the efficiency of planes must continue and accelerate.
  3. Electrifying planes for short and mid distance flight is expected to arrive in the next decade, eliminating the carbon footprint of these flights (assuming that by then our grid is 100% green.

I am taking my children on their first safari this year. Trips like this are essential. We must make it financially viable to protect wildernesses and wildlife – this is the main aim of the website. However, where there is a viable alternative to flight it should be taken whenever possible.

Comparing flight to train: London to Paris A train from London to Paris takes 2 hours 38 minutes, and costs from £52 one way, or £78 return. Added to this, it is recommended you arrive at least 45 minutes before departure, giving a rough time of 3 hours and 15 minutes from centre of London to centre of Parise for 59 – this is about £50.

How does this compare to flights? Well if you get easyJet’s cheapest flight, it works out at £23 for the flight, which sounds cheaper, doesn’t it? But there are several provisos. Firstly, this is a flight booked months in advance – booking a flight just one week in advance already throws away this advantage, with prices starting at £63 (73), or £126 return. Furthermore, you must add the cost of getting from the airport to centre of the city. In France this can be as low as 10 euros, in England, a little more than half (about £40). In terms of time, flying takes about 1 hour 20 minutes – plus at least 30 minutes check-in. However, you must add the journey from central London to Gatwick (30 minutes), and from Charles de Gaulle to central Paris about 30 minutes. So on the cheapest flight, booked months ahead of time, you are talking about the flight and journey to the airport costing £23+£40+£9 or about £72. So the cost of flying, plus getting back to the centre of each city is £72, and takes 2 hours 50 minutes, however these trains are unlikely to be waiting on the platform for you – so lets add 15 minutes wait for each train – 3 hours 20 minutes.

In other words, the train costs almost 50% less, and gets you there in about the same time – though as it is just one train all the way, you can relax. In terms of carbon footprint, the flight is roughly 60kg, but the train is about 4kg.

In other words, we are already at the point where for this journey, taking the plane is a foolish move.

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