Climate change: How can we make flying greener?

Biofuels, alternative flight routes and newer, green aircraft technology can make flying better for the environment. How close are we to introducing these climate-friendly alternatives?

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, when the global aviation sector was flying high in 2019, it contributed almost 6% of the planet-warming greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. A year later, with the industry crippled by pandemic-related flight cancellations, that figure had dropped by 43%. Last year, it was still 37% lower.

But air traffic has been steadily increasing, according to industry body the International Air Transport Association.

Alternative flight routes could prevent contrails

Contrails — those narrow, white clouds that trace an airplane’s path through the sky — are formed when jet fuel, which contains kerosene, burns. At the average cruising altitude of between 8,000 to 12,000 meters (around 26,000 to 40,000 feet), low temperatures cause water vapor to condense around the soot and sulfur left behind by jet emissions. The resulting ice crystals can remain suspended in the air for hours.


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