This great YouTube clip represents 24 hours of air travel - an astonishing 2 million people in the air at any one time.
Emirates Airline started a new route from Dubai to San Francisco, initiating a number of new features to help it reduce fuel use and CO2 emissions. Subsequently, Emirates referred to this trip as a 'green trial flight.'
For the flight, Emirates flew a new Boeing 777-200LR, a plane which has received plaudits for being more fuel efficient than previous 777s and leading to CO2 reductions of up to 20%. By pre-washing the plane, targeting unnecessary weight for removal, using airport instead of engine power pre-flight, employing a tug to get the plane out to the tarmac, and flying a new route over the North Pole, Emirates also noted a 40,000 pound "savings" of CO2. Is that anything to crow about?Eco-friendly skies...
From the perspective that incremental improvements adopted by entire industries as business-as-usual are a positive, the answer is yes. Emirates' initiatives are to a greater or lesser degree scalable to the entire airline industry, especially some of its procedures for ascent and descent that are also being used in Scandinavia to cut fuel use, costs, and emissions. In addition, different kinds of planes and different kinds of fuel are two promising areas for airlines to pursue to make air travel more energy efficient and less carbon belching.
...or never-green air travel?
On the other hand, those 40,000 pounds are a little drop in the big bucket of 418 billion pounds emitted last year by the global airline industry. Air travel accounts for just between 1 and 2 percent of global emissions, but it is the fastest growing segment. Some people believe that airline travel per se just can't be green, at least not in its current form, and that people should get used to traveling less and using alternative forms of travel. But almost everyone agrees that air travel isn't going away. Thus Emirates' initiatives are a model that other airlines would do well to copy.
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