We are pretty used to campaigns to cut aircraft pollution here at TreeHugger , we're just not so used to these campaigns being originated by airlines themselves. Not long ago Mairi reported on calls by UK-based budget carrier Easyjet for an outright ban on older aircraft, among other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It seems that these calls were more than just a flash in the pan, and Easyjet is now stepping up its campaign with a promotional email asking customers to write to their Members of Parliament with the following message:
I agree with easyJet that it's time for politicians to be more intelligent when it comes to flying and climate change. You should be encouraging people to fly in cleaner aircraft - just like you advocate for cars. It is time to ban the oldest, dirtiest aircraft in the sky. It would be easy to do and would have a big impact.
It is wrong to tax families but not private jets and cargo. Air Passenger Duty should be reformed to tax aircraft emissions - those that pollute the most should pay the most. UK air travellers already pay more tax than any other country in Europe.
You and your party should not hesitate to encourage aircraft technology developments. Air travel could be 50% cleaner within 10 years.
You should urge people and your colleagues to act responsibly - to fly with those airlines that have new aircraft, high passenger loads and fewer emissions. More questions should be asked in Parliament about the efficiency of transport modes used for Government business. Even if you feel there is little you can do to influence this debate, make sure you read 'the facts about aviation emissions'. The more MPs are aware of the facts, the greater the ability of our country to take the lead in aviation emissions. The interests of air travellers in your constituency will be best served by having an informed political debate on the intelligent solutions to managing aviation emissions.
This is important to your constituency. Please let me know what actions you and your party will be taking."
Apparently this email is timed to coincide with the release of an Easyjet-authored report on aviation and climate change. However, while we found mention of it in their press release here, and in a Guardian report here, we are yet to find a copy of the report available online (can anyone help us out here?).
We'd be interested to see the calculations behind Easyjet's assertion that it produces less CO2 per passenger km than Virgin's Voyager Trains, and less even than the Toyota Prius (assuming the Prius only has one passenger) — we are pretty sure that they are not including the admittedly controversial factor of the role that altitude plays in increasing the effects of harmful emissions.
While we'll reserve judgment on the company's exact figures in relation to alternative modes of transport, to some degree we must concede that Easyjet has a point — budget airlines do have a much lower carbon footprint per passenger mile than the larger carriers, especially when compared to business class or private jets. They also tend to fly direct routes, rather than using the traditional hub-and-spoke model, thus creating less passenger miles per journey. However, there is a flip side to all this that illustrates the limits of efficiency — cheaper flights from regional airports means more journeys by more people. Efficiency is only an effective means to curbing pollution if it is not coupled with a corresponding rise in usage. ::Easyjet::via site visit::