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Go Back: Home > Earth Island Journal > Issues > Autumn 2001

Burn the Jets; Warm the Planet

Ethical Consumer

A plane uses about as much fuel as if every passenger on the plane had driven a car the same distance, with the CO2 emissions to match. The total warming effect of all airplane emissions is 2 to 5 times greater than that of CO2 alone, making jet travel the world’s most polluting mode of transport. Air travel is growing by 7 percent per year.

Currently, there is no tax on aviation fuel. If jet kerosene were taxed like automobile gasoline, a flight from London to New York and back again, would generate around £300 ($439) in tax revenue. While it takes longer to travel the same distance by rail, a train generates only one-third of the carbon emissions as a plane. Using a system designed to monitor an individual’s carbon emission impacts (www.chooseclimate.org), booking a round-trip economy flight between Britain and Australia would use up one passenger’s allowable carbon emissions for all heating, lighting and transport – for two-and-a-half years.

–Matthew Fawcett, Ethical Consumer [Unit 21, 41 Old Birley Street, Manchester M15 5RF, United Kingdom, +44 161 226-2929, fax: -6277, ethicon@mcr1.poptel.org.uk

   

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