united kingdomen
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

Please read this important information before proceeding further. It contains legal and regulatory notices relevant to the information contained on this website.

The information contained in the Website is NOT FOR RETAIL CLIENTS - The information contained in the Website is solely intended for professional investors, defined as investors which (1) qualify as professional clients within the meaning of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), (2) have requested to be treated as professional clients within the meaning of the MiFID or (3) are authorized to receive such information under any other applicable laws. The value of the investments may fluctuate. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investors may not get back the amount originally invested. Neither Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. nor any of its affiliates guarantees the performance or the future returns of any investments. If the currency in which the past performance is displayed differs from the currency of the country in which you reside, then you should be aware that due to exchange rate fluctuations the performance shown may increase or decrease if converted into your local currency.

In the UK, Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. (“ROBECO”) only markets its funds to institutional clients and professional investors. Private investors seeking information about ROBECO should visit our corporate website www.robeco.com or contact their financial adviser. ROBECO will not be liable for any damages or losses suffered by private investors accessing these areas.

In the UK, ROBECO Funds has marketing approval for the funds listed on this website, all of which are UCITS funds. ROBECO is authorized by the AFM and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority are available from us on request.

Many of the protections provided by the United Kingdom regulatory framework may not apply to investments in ROBECO Funds, including access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service. No representation, warranty or undertaking is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information on this website.

If you are not an institutional client or professional investor you should therefore not proceed. By proceeding please note that we will be treating you as a professional client for regulatory purposes and you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.

If you do not accept these terms and conditions, as well as the terms of use of the website, please do not continue to use or access any pages on this website.

I Disagree