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  • Writer's pictureSayel Cortes

"Airplanes Can´t Outfly Their Carbon Emissions" - Sayel´s reply to WSJ article

This is a reply to the following article

"Airplanes Can´t Outlfy Their Carbon Emissions"

By Jon Sindreu

Nov. 29, 2019 5:30 am ET

My reply

This is an interesting analysis on the perspective for airlines to reduce or compensate their carbon emissions. As said in the article, the technology for an electric plane is not on sight, so despite technological advances, flights will still be producing CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change. However, the article does put this in perspective by mentioning that emissions from flights are less than 3% and that long haul flights are more efficient than cars on per kilometre and per passenger base. Despite this, some airlines are aiming to be net carbon neutral in the following decades, which requires carbon emissions compensation. The article seems to imply this is not enough as the emissions are still being generated, and emission compensation is not fully reliable.

I totally agree with compensating the CO2 emissions of flights, I actually think this should be automatically added to the price of the tickets globally. While important to the economy, flying is a luxury against other forms of transportation that are cheaper but take longer time. In such a case, I see no social argument for flight passengers not to offset the negative public impacts of their trip such as carbon emissions. The article seems to suggest that offsetting the emissions is insufficient because of errors and challenges in the accounting of the carbon sequestration projects (whether these projects are indeed additional, or if they capture the carbon they claim). While these are important issues that are hard to address (but efforts are made in several fronts with different levels of standards and monitor systems to account for the CO2 captured), there are several co-benefits not mentioned in the article that I believe made offsetting an attractive option. An increased and constant flow of resources towards the CO2 capture industry would be very helpful to strengthen projects that would allow to test and improve carbon capture techniques in developing countries. Furthermore, this flow of money would help poor communities as many of these projects are implemented in rural areas in developing countries. This would in itself bring a lot of co-benefits (improved nutrition and health in these communities, development in rural areas, more biodiversity protection, etc.), but beyond that, it would help develop an urgently needed industry: the carbon capture industry, and this is important.

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