Which Airlines Are the Best and Worst for Climate Change?
As of 2018, the commercial aviation industry accounted for 2.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. If it were its own country, it would be the 7th highest emitter on the planet.
Because of this, some climate activists have begun calling on people to reduce the amount of time they spend in the air, or to stop flying all together. Two Swedish moms, for example, got at least 10,000 people to pledge not to fly at all in 2019 as part of their No-fly 2019 (Flygfritt 2019) campaign, as BBC News reported.
But if you do need to fly, it turns out not all airlines are carbon-equal. A report released Tuesday from the London School of Economics' (LSE) Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) compared what the 20 top publicly-traded airline companies are doing to combat climate change, and found that only one — the budget airline EasyJet — was on track to keep its carbon dioxide emissions low enough after 2020 to meet the Paris agreement goal of limiting warming to below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Next week @tp_initiative will release latest research on world's top publicly-listed #airlines companies. Find out… https://t.co/9Zv8ysYSUA— Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) (@Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI))1551372867.0
In general, the study found that the entire industry had to do better. No company had a clear plan to reduce emissions past 2025. Further, many companies that had adopted emissions reduction targets relied on carbon offsetting. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that limiting warming to below two degrees is only possible if airlines actually reduce their own emissions.
However, some airlines are doing more than others. The study rated airlines on both the quality of their overall climate change management plans and their emissions per passenger kilometer (the number of passengers multiplied by the distance flown).
In terms of Management Quality, Delta, United, Lufthansa and Japan-based ANA Group scored the highest, while Air China; China Southern; Korean Air; Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines scored lowest. One airline, Wizz Air, scored even lower, but it has disclosed more data to LSE since the study was undertaken.
In terms of projected emissions (in grams of carbon dioxide per passenger kilometer) by 2020, the airlines rank as follows, from most to least efficient.
- EasyJet: 75
- Alaska Air: 87
- Qantas: 89
- United: 92
- Southwest and Jetblue: 98
- LATAM: 102
- Delta: 104
- Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines: 107
- Air China: 108
- IAG: 112
- Japan Airlines: 125
- ANA Group: 133
- Korean Air: 172
There was no 2020 data for American Airlines, China Southern or Singapore Airlines, and no data at all for Wizz Air and IndiGo.
BBC News issued a caveat about EasyJet's high performance, however:
There is also some cause for caution over EasyJet's carbon virtue. Remember that the figures are based on CO2 per passenger kilometre.
This means EasyJet can improve its per capita performance by stuffing planes with cut-price ticket-holders, thereby potentially encouraging a new generation of frequent flyers.
Indeed, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the number of airline passengers to double to 8.2 billion by 2037, which could make the sector's emissions worse, CNN reported.
The study itself is proof of growing pressure on the airline industry to reduce emissions, however. It was funded by the Environment Agency Pension Fund, which represents institutional investors who want their money to go to companies that are making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint.
"Investors have a clear message to the aviation sector," co-chair of the Transition Pathway Initiative on behalf of the Environment Agency Pension Fund Faith Ward said in the study press release. "When it comes to carbon performance they must be in it for the long haul. That means setting stretching emissions reduction targets to 2030 and beyond, and ending a reliance on offsetting. It's clear from TPI's research that this is not currently the case."
EasyJet Plans to Fly Electric Planes Within 10 Years https://t.co/QNkq1E2zXl @greenpeaceusa @Sierra_Magazine— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1506650103.0
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
In Major Win for Indigenous Rights, Supreme Court Rules Much of Eastern Oklahoma Is Still a Reservation
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
- Federal Judge Orders Trump Admin to Give Native Americans Their ... ›
- Police Were Ready to Shoot Indigenous Pipeline Protesters in ... ›
- Climate Justice, Indigenous Rights Advocates Rally for Wet'suwet'en ... ›
By Tiffany Means
Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.
The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.
- Airborne Coronavirus Transmission Must Be Taken Seriously, 239 ... ›
- Trump Halts WHO Funding Amidst Criticism of His Own Coronavirus ... ›
- Here's Why COVID-19 Can Spread So Easily at Gyms and Fitness ... ›
- Is the New Coronavirus Airborne? A Study From China Finds Evidence ›
By Angela Nicoletti
The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.
- Global Frog Pandemic May Become Even Deadlier as Strains ... ›
- New Species of Diamond Frog Discovered in Remote Pocket of ... ›
- Frogs Are on the Verge of Mass Extinction, Scientists Say - EcoWatch ›
A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.
- Trump Admin Denies Endangered Species Protections to Pacific ... ›
- Trump Admin Failed to Protect 241 Species From Extinction ... ›
- New Border Wall Construction Threatens 8 Species With Extinction ... ›
By Julia Vergin
It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
- 8 Ways to Tell if You Are Vitamin D Deficient - EcoWatch ›
- 7 Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D - EcoWatch ›
- 7 Nutrient Deficiencies That Are Incredibly Common ›
Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.
EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.
Climate models are predicting faster warming of the North Atlantic Ocean, which will shift the Gulf Stream. NASA
- Could the Climate Crisis Spell the End for Maine Lobster? - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Reasons Why Biodiversity Matters - EcoWatch ›
- World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass ... ›
- The Top 10 Ocean Biodiversity Hotspots to Protect - EcoWatch ›