switzerlanden
Short-haul flights are the worst offenders for CO2

Short-haul flights are the worst offenders for CO2

20-02-2020 | Stunning statistics
Domestic and other short-haul flights are the most carbon-intensive form of travel, figures show.
  • Thiemo  Lang
    Thiemo
    Lang
    Senior Portfolio Manager, RobecoSAM Smart Mobility Strategy & Smart Energy Strategy

Speed read

  • Short-haul flights emits more CO2 per person km than long haul
  • Eurostar rail service is the least carbon-intensive form of travel
  • Smart Mobility strategy targets transformational companies

What has happened?

Aircraft on routes of 700 kilometers or less emit more carbon dioxide per person for every kilometer traveled than long-haul flights: 251 grams per km for short haul compared to 195 g/km for long haul. That’s due to the fact that take-off and landing uses the most fuel, making level flight over whatever distance relatively cleaner.

By comparison, a diesel car emits 171 g/km of CO2 with one passenger, or an average of 43 g/km for four passengers, according to UK government figures. An urban bus emits 104 g/km and a coach 27 g/km due to its greater weight efficiency. Electrified domestic rail, including shorter suburban services, emits 41 g/km.

The most efficient form of transport is the transnational Eurostar, emitting only 6 g/km per passenger on trips through the Channel Tunnel. It means someone who flies from Amsterdam to London but returns on the Eurostar will be responsible for 20 times more CO2 emissions on the flight there than on the train back.

Reducing carbon emissions from all sources to make the world effectively carbon-neutral by 2050 is essential to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This seeks to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less above pre-industrial levels.

The entire transport sector is responsible for about 14.7% of all greenhouse gases emitted. The biggest contributor is not the more CO2-intensive airline industry, responsible for about 1.7% of all CO2 emissions, but road vehicles, accounting for 10.5%.

One problem is that unlike cars, aircraft cannot be battery powered – the batteries needed to get a 200-ton aircraft off the ground would currently weigh three times as much as the plane. However, work has begun in the US in trying to develop a hybrid electric engine for a 186-seater plane, with the first test flight due in 2023.

What does it mean for investors?

“Electrification will transform all modes of mobility, transport and travel,” says Thiemo Lang, portfolio manager of the RobecoSAM Smart Mobility fund which targets companies operating in this sector. “Though the pace of change varies by vehicle and purpose, the revolution is underway and accelerating.”

“Emissions regulations and improved economics are shaping the market, coupled with increasing urbanization and growing megacities which create demand for the sustainability of all modes of public transportation and the rise in private electric vehicles on our streets.

“For investors, this presents an opportunity to participate in the transformative shift towards zero-carbon mobility. The RobecoSAM Smart Mobility strategy focuses on companies enabling this transformation in all its forms – ground, sea, and sky – including component suppliers, electrical grid and charging suppliers, and data connectivity solutions providers.”

Stunning statistics
Stunning statistics

Every month we look at stunning statistics from the world of sustainability. What do they mean? What is the impact for investors?

Read all articles
Subjects related to this article are:
Logo

Disclaimer Robeco Switzerland Ltd.

The information contained on these pages is for marketing purposes and solely intended for Qualified Investors in accordance with the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act of 23 June 2006 (“CISA”) domiciled in Switzerland, Professional Clients in accordance with Annex II of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (“MiFID II”) domiciled in the European Union und European Economic Area with a license to distribute / promote financial instruments in such capacity or herewith requesting respective information on products and services in their capacity as Professional Clients. 

The Funds are domiciled in Luxembourg and The Netherlands. ACOLIN Fund Services AG, postal address: Affolternstrasse 56, 8050 Zürich, acts as the Swiss representative of the Fund(s). UBS Switzerland AG, Bahnhofstrasse 45, 8001 Zurich, postal address: Europastrasse 2, P.O. Box, CH-8152 Opfikon, acts as the Swiss paying agent. The prospectus, the Key Investor Information Documents (KIIDs), the articles of association, the annual and semi-annual reports of the Fund(s) may be obtained, on simple request and free of charge, at the office of the Swiss representative ACOLIN Fund Services AG. The prospectuses are also available via the website www.robeco.ch. Some funds about which information is shown on these pages may fall outside the scope of the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act of 26 June 2006 (“CISA”) and therefore do not (need to) have a license from or registration with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). 

Some funds about which information is shown on this website may not be available in your domicile country. Please check the registration status in your respective domicile country. To view the RobecoSwitzerland Ltd. products that are registered/available in your country, please go to the respective Fund Selector, which can be found on this website and select your country of domicile. 

Neither information nor any opinion expressed on this website constitutes a solicitation, an offer or a recommendation to buy, sell or dispose of any investment, to engage in any other transaction or to provide any investment advice or service. An investment in a Robeco Switzerland Ltd. product should only be made after reading the related legal documents such as management regulations, prospectuses, annual and semi-annual reports. 

By clicking “I agree” you confirm that you/the company you represent falls under one of the above-mentioned categories of addressees and that you have read, understood and accept the terms of use for this website.

I Disagree