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Greta Thunberg Gave up Flights to Fight Climate Change. Should you?

By: 
Umair Irfan

For regular flyers, air travel is often the dominant contributor to their greenhouse gas footprints. With the window rapidly closing to limit global warming to a bearable level — scientists warn that the planet has as little as 12 years to halve global emissions to restrict warming to 1.5 degrees this century — it is more critical than ever to find a way to shrink aviation’s carbon footprint. Every bit of carbon dioxide we emit now will linger in the atmosphere and warm the planet for decades, but completely decarbonizing aircraft will likely require technologies that are decades away. Reducing the number of flights is one of the few surefire ways to curb emissions in the meantime...

But that’s if you fly to begin with. In the United States, fewer than half of travelers in 2017 took a trip by air, according to an industry survey. Globally, less than one-fifth of the population has ever buckled in for a flight. That means a minority of frequent flyers contribute a disproportionate share of emissions. So reducing air travel is one of the most effective things individuals can do to shrink their carbon footprints.