Why We need to Create Sustainable Aviation & Ways to do so​

By Bronagh Loughlin

Environmental concerns about gaseous emissions, climate change and noise are becoming an increasingly important economic, social and political issue for aviation. Tackling the environment issue is the latest major challenge facing global aviation.  

While aviation represents just 2% of global CO2 emissions, air transport generates 0.6 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. If we are to create a more sustainable and thriving planet, aviation is an area we need to focus on.  

The good news is that there are lots of ways to tackle this and given the current situation we are in, the COVID-19 pandemic and air travel coming to a halt, we have the time to focus our efforts on creating sustainable aviation.  

Over the last number of years, people have become more conscious of the impacts of air travel on the planet and become more aware of inspired movements such as when Greta Thunberg made her stance and gave up flights. 

She sparked widespread ‘flight shaming’ in her choice to refuse to fly, feeling that it will make travellers think twice about their means of transportation and prompt them to make a more thoughtful approach to travel.  

There are more thoughtful approaches to travel than that of aviation which has a large impact on the environment and human health. For instance, new aircraft and biofuels which are key to reducing carbon emissions. 

Designing new aircrafts that take a fuel that is not harmful to the environment is key in creating sustainable aviation. Biofuel, for those who have not heard of it, is derived from biomass, i.e. plant or algae material or alternatively, animal waste.  

Given that such feedstock material can be replenished readily, biofuel is considered to be a great source of renewable energy, unlike that of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum. 

The reality is, we all want to travel the world and travelling by flying is not something that is going to stop. You may be wondering what you can do as an individual to promote and ensure your flying in the most sustainable way possible. 

One way to do so is by thinking about biofuels and choosing airlines that either blend their biofuels with fossil fuels or those that have already incorporated newer, more fuel-efficient aircrafts into their fleets.  

Alongside the fuel and energy flying uses that harms the planet, another thing to consider is the amount of waste created on these trips. The amount of waste that is created on airplanes plays a huge role in the aviation impact.  

So, if you want to help, you can reduce your own impact by bringing your own food in reusable bags or containers, bring a reusable water bottle and bring some reusable utensils to use during the meal service.  

If you want to take the route of reducing your impact by offsetting the carbon emissions of your trip, there are lots of organisations that will enable you to do this also. Offsetting CO2 helps to reduce emissions from air travel though individual actions before and after a flight.  

Not to mention, the money you pay to offset your emissions often goes to a worthy cause. For example, helping people in the areas that are most affected by climate change. Just ensure that the organisation is legitimate before you give them your money.  

If you want to offset emissions without paying an organisation to do so, there are a 

number of actions you can do as an individual. You can seek out tourist activities that help the Earth and support local businesses that focus on sustainability.  

Also, you can opt to fly direct and travel lightly because this will lower the drag on the plane, causing it to use less fuel. We have been presented with an incredible opportunity to really hone in on the areas of our society that are harming the planet.  

Given this opportunity, we can improve and adapt to ensure that the impact of aviation on the environment and human health is reduced.  By making thoughtful changes in our personal lives, we are able to align more closely to the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN, to build back better for a more sustainable future.

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