As pressure grows worldwide to deal with the climate crisis, the airline KLM has taken the unusual step of suggesting that travelers should think twice before booking a flight with the airline.
Dutch airline KLM has started a program asking people to “Fly Responsibly”. The company is asking its customers to think about their choices before they buy a plane ticket. In a video announcing the program, the airline suggests that travelers ask themselves questions, such as whether they could take a train instead.
That’s an unusual step for a company that makes money selling flights. But as people worry more and more about the climate crisis, airlines are working hard to make sure their businesses can keep going.
Around the world people are becoming more aware of the problems caused by man-made pollution. This is increasing pressure on governments, companies, and ordinary people to take action to deal with the emergency.
Jet airplanes are one of the largest sources of human pollution. About 3% of the world’s carbon emissions are believed to come from airline travel. That number is likely to go up – the number of people traveling by plane has been growing steadily for years, and is expected to keep increasing.
As people look for ways to cut down on pollution, airline travel begins to look like an easy solution. That’s because for many people, traveling on planes is a choice, not something that they must do. The US Travel Association says that only about 20% of the airline flights taken in 2018 were for work. The other 80% were for leisure – traveling for fun.
Airlines don’t have much choice in how they move people around. Though jet fuel is highly polluting, so far, there is no easy way to replace it. Batteries are far too heavy to make electric planes a possibility for long flights.
Airlines like KLM and others have experimented with “biofuels” – fuel made from plants, but this still pollutes and can cause other environmental problems as well.
Some people have suggested that KLM’s “Fly Responsibly” program isn’t serious. They think the program is really just a way to try to make the company look good at a time when people are worried about airline pollution.
In Europe and other places, some people are even talking about “flight-shaming” – trying to make people feel embarrassed for polluting the planet by flying.
But there are some signs that KLM is serious. The airline recently announced that it is working on a new plane design called a “Flying-V” which can hold lots of passengers, but will use 20% less fuel. The company says it has taken other steps that have lowered emissions per passenger by 17% since 2011.
The company has also developed a program called CO2Zero to “offset” its emissions. This program allows passengers to try to make up for the pollution their flight is causing by giving some money to a project that helps fight the climate crisis, such as a tree-planting program.