The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
EasyJet Plans to Fly Electric Planes Within 10 Years
By Joe McCarthy
British airline EasyJet is aiming to bring an electric, battery-propelled plane to market within the decade to handle short term flights.
That means trips from New York to Boston, for instance, or London to Paris, could be completed without fossil fuels. The batteries for the planes will be built by Wright Electric, a team of aerospace engineers, powertrain experts and battery chemists, who have worked in companies such as Nasa, Boeing and Cessna.
The design could make the planes 50 percent quieter and 10 percent cheaper for airlines to buy, according to Wright Electric.
Ultimately, EasyJet wants all short flights to be electric within 20 years, the company said in a press release, an accomplishment that could transform what is one of the most pollution-heavy industries in the world.
"For the first time in my career I can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it," Carolyn McCall, EasyJet's chief executive, told The Guardian. "It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short-haul electric plane will fly."
Globally, the airline industry accounts for 2 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is roughly as much as Germany's aggregate emissions. As demand for aerial travel increases over the next decade, this number could triple, making it the fastest growing source of emissions in the world.
In fact, flying is likely the largest source of carbon emissions for most people, according to The New York Times. The carbon output for one person taking a cross-country flight in the U.S. is greater than if that person drove her car for a year.
Yet despite the industry's staggering environmental impact, little has been done in the way of sustainability over the years.
As other industries throughout the world—from power plants to automobile manufacturers—began to reduce their carbon footprints by investing in sustainability, the airline industry stood out as a stark outlier going in the opposite direction.
This changed in 2016 when the United Nations addressed air travel after recognizing that it had the potential to undermine the Paris climate agreement.
The Obama administration had previously issued a legal finding arguing that air travel posed a risk to human health because of its contributions to global warming.
The UN developed binding rules for the industry that mandates a 4 percent reduction in fuel consumption for new aircrafts beginning in 2028 compared with 2015 levels. Additionally, there are greater limits for larger commercial airplanes and planes delivered after 2023 will be subject to higher standards.
From experimenting with alternatives fuels to building planes with lighter materials, airline companies are now trying to cut emissions in creative ways.
But none of these efforts have significantly reduced the amount of fossil fuel needed for the thousands of flights per day around the world.
The electric plane being devised by EasyJet is trying, instead, is trying to abandon fossil fuel altogether. It's a step in a truly sustainable direction and it could lead to innovation that eventually eliminates greenhouse gas emissions from the industry.
"As technology moves on, attitudes shift, ambitions change and you see opportunities you didn't see," Peter Duffy, EasyJet's chief commercial officer, told The Guardian. "This is genuinely exciting."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.
Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.
Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.