19 October 2021

Lite.Flights' response to the Department of Transportation Jet Zero Consultation

A few thoughts about mandatory carbon labelling and airline sustainability.

Consultation Report

The UK Government has just published its report on its Jet Zero Consultation. You can download the report here. Below you will find Lite.Flights response to the original call.


Lite.Flights is a carbon conscious flight search engine. It enables passengers to search for flights world-wide and select the least polluting option. The project has been created by London-based digital agency Good Caesar. The following is our response to the Department of Transport Jet Zero Consultation.

Aviation is currently responsible for approximately 3%-5% of global carbon emissions, but imagine if we could reduce that even by just 1 percentage point simply by enabling passengers to make a more informed choice? That 1 percent can make a big difference.

Not flying is not a realistic solution. Without aviation many people would be unable to see their families, embrace their loved ones, carry out their business, explore the world.

Electric aircrafts are currently years away from wide-scale implementation. The biggest on the near horizon is only capable of flying 19 passengers 250 miles. That’s not going to cut it. The same could to some extent be said about Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF.) Production is still quite low and in no way able to make a proper dent in the fuel market. Then there are various new technologies such as the RISE engine currently in development by CFM with an anticipated entry into service around 2035, but again it’s years away.

So where does that leave us? Well, it’s not all doom and gloom. Passengers have a choice and that choice can have a real, significant  impact on the carbon footprint of their journey. An impact that can be made not in 2035, but today.

13. Do you agree or disagree with the overall focus on influencing consumers?

We wholeheartedly agree.

We have found that older, less fuel efficient aircraft have a greater impact on the environment than more modern aircraft. Passengers might not be aware of this and it’s not in the commercial interest of the airlines to share this information. At the end of the day they are in the business of selling seats regardless of the aircraft type.

Our research shows (and aligns with the research of other organisations such at the ICCT) that selecting one departure over another can save a significant amount of CO2. As an example take the New York to London route, where selecting JetBlue over Delta Airlines can save you up to 57% in CO2. That’s a real significant tangible difference, today.

If labelling was mandatory it would enable passengers to make an informed choice about what departure to pick, and it would also be inline with other industries such as automobiles. Passengers would be able to select a flight based on not just convenience and price but also its climate impact. This would greatly empower the consumer to actively make an engaged choice, and a choice we believe they are actually desperate to make. Right now it takes effort to make that choice. Streamline the process. Empower the customer. Save the planet.

14. What more can the government do to support consumers to make informed, sustainable aviation travel choices?

We would positively champion a solution that makes it mandatory for airlines to share the carbon emission data for each of the routes they operate. They know exactly the emissions generated by each and every flight. They know the load factor, they know the exact weight, the route and so forth. They have all the data. However, for this to be effective it  would have to be a global arrangement, implemented by ICAO.

Emission data is hard to come by and only in the hands of very few specialised organisations and companies. Google Flights has recently added CO2 to its search results, Kayak and Skyscanner have done similar things too, but that’s only a start. If you go to book a flight with British Airways you have no idea, same for Ryanair. What they are doing instead is adding carbon offsetting as part of their ticketing user journey, but that feels like an afterthought whereas it ought to be the starting point. We want passengers to offset less because they made a smart choice, more if they didn’t.

15. What could be done further or differently to ensure we tackle non-CO2 impacts from aviation?

We would welcome a way to rank the sustainability of individual airlines.  On the window of every food establishment in the United Kingdom you will find a mandatory sticker. Some stickers have three, four stars or five stars. The more stars, the better the food hygiene. What if a similar rating system was made mandatory for airlines? The system would rate the airline's overall environmental profile. This should be independent  from the actual carbon emission per flight, a separate way to indicate its commitment to sustainability.

If passengers knew the carbon emissions of their flights and the sustainability rating of the airline they would be able to make powerful choices. Choices that would inevitably push airlines to improve things across the board and propel the industry forward to properly embrace a sustainable approach to aviation.

8 September 2021

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