Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
In Mike's excellent piece on greener flying, he carefully explained how business class passengers have higher per-passenger emissions than economy. Terrapass have also covered this in their tips for sustainable air travel. It's pretty simple—the more space you take up, the less room there is for other passengers. The UK Foreign Office seems to buy this logic, asking staff—including ambassadors—to fly Economy. given the tax implications, this should make everyone happy. The Guardian reports that the move is part of the Foreign Office's involvement in the 10:10 Campaign, a movement against climate change that has been gaining significant traction in the UK. The Guardian also reports that this isn't the only change:
"In common with other individuals and organisations, including three other government departments, it will turn down heating and air conditioning, switch to eco-friendly vehicles, and try to use video-conferencing to replace one in ten flights. Staff overseas are also being encouraged to take their own initiative: in Portugal, our man in Lisbon, ambassador Alex Ellis now cycles to work."
It's good to see Government departments getting involved in change like this—and especially change that illustrates that green isn't all about spending more, or expensive, flashy tech. There is so much low hanging fruit that can be harvested—and much of it will save us all money too.
If anyone is still in doubt about the relative carbon intensity of flying Economy or Business, take a look at The Guardian's calculations about passenger space and CO2 emissions. By their reckoning, flying first class on British Airways creates a carbon footprint 5.5 times larger than that of an economy passenger!
And anyone worrying about the comfort level of British civil servants shouldn't fret too much. The new flight guidelines only apply to flights of 5 hours or less. The ambassador to Australia should still be able to stretch his or her legs...
More on Greener Flying
Skipping One Cross-Country Flight = Going Vegetarian for a Year
Quickly Calculate The Carbon of Your Flights
That Cross Country Flight You Just Took Emitted as Much Carbon as the Rest of Your Life
Greener Flying: Not All Flights are Created Equal (Part 1 of 3)