Footprints in the sky

Much of the air industry appears to be wrapping itself snuggly in the illusionary blanket of environmental friendliness. Discretely pointing an accusatory fi nger at their distant cousins on the high seas, air industry execs proudly stake their green claim of only contributing 2 per cent of global CO₂ emissions – only athird of their […]


Much of the air industry appears to be wrapping itself snuggly in the illusionary blanket of environmental friendliness. Discretely pointing an accusatory fi nger at their distant cousins on the high seas, air industry execs proudly stake their green claim of only contributing 2 per cent of global CO₂ emissions – only athird of their aquatic cousins.

Who is the worst polluter is really not the point – although it needs to be stated clearly for the record that pound-for-pound shipping is more earth friendly when considering the shear volume ofcargo that gets moved by water.

But back to the point at hand. It’s hard to avoid the distinct impression that the air industry has its head in the clouds. Time and again I hear how the air industry is being picked on by the green meanies of environmentalism, merciless journalists andpoliticising bureaucrats.

Th e industry needs a reality check: No. 1, it is a polluter that contributes to climate change; and No. 2, it must become much more savvy with the concepts and linguafranca of climate change, such as “carbon footprints” and “food miles,” for instance.

The reason carriers, and in particular cargo carriers, should care can be seen in the recent debacle in the UK over air-freighted organic fruit and vegetables from Africa. In a nutshell, the UK’s leading organic inspectors – the Soil Association – very nearly accepted calls for an all-out ban on air-freighted organic food over concerns about the climate change impact of food being fl own long distances, otherwise known as food miles.