Looking for a way to reduce your flight’s carbon footprint, but you’re not sure where to start? Our carbon footprint calculator is specifically designed to estimate your personal CO2 emissions (the carbon pollution you generate by everyday tasks like driving, using electricity, or flying), so you have the data you need to take action against climate change.
Calculate Your Flights CO2 Now: Click Here.
The fact is, as human beings in the modern world, we’re all responsible for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions being pumped into the atmosphere. These gases hold more heat than the planet is designed to deal with, which results in climate change. But with tools like a carbon calculator, you can take personal responsibility for your part, and more.
Here’s how it works:
- Use the Carbon Calculator to find your carbon footprint. You can look up the specific CO2 emissions per flight by entering basic flight info.
- Once you have your estimated ‘flying footprint,’ you can follow the links to invest in carbon offsets for air travel. Your investment will fund carbon-negative forestry projects around the world, thus ‘balancing out’ your environmental impact.
- Tell your friends! We’re all responsible for our environment, and the only way we’re going to reverse these trends is if we work together.
Traveling by Airplane: How Your Carbon Footprint Is Defined
There are a lot of ways that humans contribute to climate change, but commercial air travel is one of the easiest to offset. The International Civil Aviation Organization (the aviation branch of the United Nations) in 2019 predicted that airplane emissions of CO2 are on pace to triple by the year 2050. (Source: PDF)
But, many people wonder why is air travel so bad for the environment?
Direct Airplane CO2 Emissions
The most obvious source of GHG emissions comes from the airplane itself, burning fuel to transport passengers across the globe. All combustible engines produce carbon dioxide emissions, but the average jumbo jet can burn through a staggering amount of fuel in every trip, as much as two hundred thousand liters. According to climate scientist Andrew Steele, that equals approximately 720 tons of CO2 in a single flight.
Indirect Airplane CO2 Emissions
Have you ever had to wait on the tarmac before a journey? Of course, you have. Well, that time you spend waiting for the runway to clear can have a big impact on our environment.
In a research paper published by two MIT scientists [PDF], it’s estimated that commercial airline passengers wasted almost 50 million minutes on the tarmac due to taxi delays. That comes to 200 million gallons of excess fuel burn. There are also the gallons of fuel used when you rent a car at the end of your flight.
Unfortunately, ‘indirect’ CO2 sources like these are not always factored into carbon footprint calculations. This makes the environmental impact of flying that much more significant … a cost that our planet cannot afford.
Aren’t the Airlines Responsible for All This CO2?
Commercial airlines are aware of the need to bring GHG emissions down and fast. The American Airlines Carbon Offset program is one of the most ambitious carbon neutrality projects in the industry. By investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft and fuel conservation initiatives, and pairing those initiatives with high-quality carbon offsets, AA is leading the way in airline carbon neutrality.
Carbon Footprint vs. Carbon Offsets Explained
Your carbon footprint is your own, personal share of CO2 emissions. Basically, it’s the total measurement, expressed in terms of metric tons, of the CO2 equivalent you (or a business, event, or even a product, like a steak dinner) creates. Of course, also includes everything associated with the emissions, like any production (manufacturing) or consumption (buildings, roads and other natural materials) of ecological resources. As the most abundant greenhouse gas (GHG), atmospheric CO2 is widely agreed to be the most significant driver of climate change because of it’s ability to hold heat.
Carbon Offsets are a way to “balance” your personal CO2 emissions, by providing an opportunity to invest in green, eco-friendly projects across the globe. These carbon offset projects are designed to be carbon negative, which means that they will directly reduce the amount of CO2, methane, or other GHG concentrations in our atmosphere through some operation, whether that involves planting more trees or converting methane gas for green energy.
When your carbon footprint is “balanced” with either carbon offsets or carbon credits, you have become carbon neutral (your generation of CO2 is equal to the methods used to sequester or erase it). However, more often, because greenhouse gases include more than just carbon dioxide, the term “net zero” is becoming more widely used as a way to indicate that a person, organization, product, etc. hasn’t contributed greenhouses gases to the atmosphere. And that’s what the world needs most.
What Kind of Projects are Carbon Negative?
Carbon offset programs can come in a number of forms, including clean energy solar projects and advanced methane capture protocols. But one of the purest, most effective ways to mitigate the planet’s CO2 is with forestry carbon projects.
By planting trees in deforested areas (sections of land that have been cleared and burned, releasing carbon back into the atmosphere), it’s possible to restore the Earth’s natural carbon-sequestering capacities. Vegetation (and the ocean) are the world’s largest ‘carbon sinks,’ places that store to trap carbon, drawing it out of the atmosphere. Simply put, more trees mean less CO2 in the air, and that’s precisely what the planet needs.
But it takes more than just planting trees to get the job done. Reforestation efforts need to be balanced with improved forest management (IFM) in order to create lasting carbon reductions.
Trying to Justify Flying? Calculate Your Carbon (CO2) Emissions First
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if we want to avoid climate disaster on this planet, we need to limit the rise in global temperatures to below 1.5C. This would require a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. And, sad to say it, we’re not on track to hit those numbers.
If we’re going to turn things around, we need to invest in carbon-negative programs that are specifically targeted at CO2 reduction. If you’re taking a commercial flight, calculating your carbon emissions before you go is essential in reducing or offsetting your environmental impact.
Flying & Buying Carbon Offsets Through Trusted Programs & Providers
As of 2017, commercial flights made up 12.4% of total transportation greenhouse gas emissions [PDF]. Buying carbon offsets after using a calculator for flight is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint. But not all carbon programs are created equal, and some are more effective at making a difference than others.
Our carbon offset guide is a one-stop-shop for buying carbon offsets. You’ll find valuable information on how to vet an offset company to see if it’s legit. We also share some recommendations for the best carbon offset programs, including which are the most sustainable.
For more information on offsetting your carbon footprint, you can also visit organizations like Gold Standard and the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Both groups work to vet and verify carbon programs to protect consumers, increasing the overall benefit of carbon-negative projects.