1% of people responsible for up to HALF of air travel carbon emissions

Just ONE per cent of the world’s population is responsible for up to HALF of harmful carbon emissions caused by air travel, study suggests

  • Researchers estimated only 11 per cent of people globally got on a plane in 2018
  • Travel surveys show up to quarter of flyers do so once a year for  annual holiday 
  • One in 10 are frequent flyers while worst culprits fly almost every day of a year 

Just one per cent of the world’s population is responsible for up to half of harmful carbon emissions caused by travelling by plane, a study suggests.

Researchers estimated only 11 per cent of people globally got on a plane in 2018 based on passenger data.

Travel surveys show up to a quarter of flyers do so only once a year for their annual holiday.

However, around one in 10 are very frequent flyers while the worst culprits get on a plane almost every day of a year. 

Just one per cent of the world’s population is responsible for up to half of harmful carbon emissions caused by travelling by plane, a study suggests 

Researchers said these ‘super-emitters’ make up only one per cent of the world’s population, but produce 30 to 50 per cent of carbon emissions from aviation.

Professor Stefan Goessling, from Linnaeus University in Sweden, who led the study, said: ‘Some individuals will produce more carbon emissions in a year than entire African villages or cities.

‘It may seem to them that it’s not a big deal to jump on a plane, but they are doing so far more than everybody else. 

‘Tackling climate change needs to start with these super-emitters.’

More than 2.5billion people – mainly living in the US, China and India – flew within their own country during 2018.

The study calculated that only two to four per cent flew abroad.

Surveys suggest the most frequent flyers take up to 300 flights a year.

Professor Goessling said these people travel about 35,000 miles a year – equivalent to several long-haul flights annually or regular short-haul flights monthly.

The study may come as a surprise as it suggests very few people around the world get the chance to fly despite the growth of package holidays and budget airlines in wealthier regions such as Europe and the US.

Researchers said that 59 per cent of the UK population do not fly – based on figures from 2009. The study was published in the journal Global Environmental Change.   

Professor Stefan Goessling, from Linnaeus University in Sweden, who led the study, said: ‘Some individuals will produce more carbon emissions in a year than entire African villages or cities.

‘It may seem to them that it’s not a big deal to jump on a plane, but they are doing so far more than everybody else. 

‘Tackling climate change needs to start with these super-emitters.’

More than 2.5billion people – mainly living in the US, China and India – flew within their own country during 2018.

The study calculated that only two to four per cent flew abroad.

Surveys suggest the most frequent flyers take up to 300 flights a year.

Professor Goessling said these people travel about 35,000 miles a year – equivalent to several long-haul flights annually or regular short-haul flights monthly.

The study may come as a surprise as it suggests very few people around the world get the chance to fly despite the growth of package holidays and budget airlines in wealthier regions such as Europe and the US.

Researchers said that 59 per cent of the UK population do not fly – based on figures from 2009. 

The study was published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

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