The Impact of Flying

This year we’re asking, “Can airlines please tell us the truth – the whole truth – about the impacts of aviation?  Is it not one of the biggest polluters of our planet?”  Like cigarette packaging and advertising, and in a similar way to food allergy advice, shouldn’t plane tickets have health warnings for us and the planet?

The airwaves and newspapers have been full of airlines’ enticing advertisements encouraging the consumer to spend, spend, spend on low-cost package holidays in  a cost-of-living and climate crisis. The planet is priceless; it has a value which needs to be considered when booking a flight, just as people may consider the health risks of smoking before lighting up, and the Government should ensure that we’re given a true account of what flying does to the planet, no different from other advertisements that must declare all the facts or face action from the Advertising Standards Authority.

One return flight from Gatwick to Milan, for example, generates almost 20kg of carbon dioxide alone and an estimated 300kg of carbon dioxide from other warming gases.

In 2019 CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (Sussex Surrey and Kent)) launched their environmental campaign ‘Pledge to Fly Less’ with the aim of educating us about the greenhouse gases that are released when we fly. We put it to the Government that at the time of booking a flight, families should be fully informed so that they can make healthier choices for the future based on full knowledge of what flying does to the planet.

The Civil Aviation Authority is still considering this idea while greener fuels are rarely used by airlines, while technology remains on drawing-boards and in prototypes, while there is no tax on airline fuel, while aviation bosses ask for yet more money from the taxpayer.

The myth of ‘offsetting CO2’ is mere greenwashing, doing nothing at all to remove it or any other greenhouse gases emitted during flying.  It’s simply jargon, like ‘carbon trading’ which may sound marvellous, but is, in fact, simply a process whereby one company sells their ‘debt’ of carbon pollution to another, at ever-increasing prices. It is not regulated and might remind us of the bankers’ out of control gambling which led to the financial crash in 2008.

As aviation continues to seek unconditional growth at any price to the planet, we need to ensure that we are as fully informed as possible as we will all be paying the costs in the end.

We invite you to support this petition asking for up to date new laws:-


By Sally Pavey