Flying Low And Slow Reduces Greenhouse Gases


The debate over Sweden's CO2 burden from travel, especially international budget air travel, continues with some news: last week the Swedish state department became the first in Europe to promise that starting next year it would offset the CO2 from its own international air trips.

The government will purchase offsets from UN Kyoto Protocol so-called Clean Development Mechanism projects - wind farms in China and biogas heating in Brazil were two examples Sweden's Environmental Minister Andreas Carlgren gave when announcing the plan. International flights of "a multi-lateral nature" will be the first to be eligible for offsets. Those are included in the 2008 state department budget and are projected to cost around two million crowns (US$321,000). Compare that to the budget line item for extra state department expenses for a rumored 2008 royal wedding between Princess Victoria and her betrothed Daniel Westling - 8 million crowns (US$1.2 million).Oh, well, it is still a start. Carlgren said he wanted to demonstrate for Swedes that purchasing offsets is no big deal, and not even prohibitively expensive - perhaps a few hundred crowns more on a ticket. But the idea of offsetting our way to climate neutrality - is it even possible? More on that in an upcoming post. Meanwhile Swedish professor Stefan Gössling said that if the state is going to buy offsets, it should at least purchase 'gold standard' offsets which 42 different environmental and social organizations have endorsed as being minimally ecologically damaging and even beneficial to local populations.

In other news, a Swedish experiment with what is called 'green approach' is spreading from Stockholm's Arlanda airport to others both inside and outside the county. Green approach is teaching pilots to not fly too fast in order to avoid airport stack-ups and to more slowly and precisely decelerate on landing approach, which can save between 100 to 200 kilos of fuel and an average of 475 tons (correction: kilos!) of CO2 per flight. Göteborg's Landvetter, Malmö's Airport and Umeå's Flyplats are all instituting green approach over the coming months. Via ::Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish)

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