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This site offers a quick and intuitive way to calculate greenhouse gas emissions caused by air travel. Our emission data are based on recent research and include also non-CO2 effects, such as those caused by contrails and associated cirrus clouds.
The site shows a world map centered at a place selected by the user and serving as the place of departure for selected flights. To select a flight destination in Direct mode (the default):
Destinations are selected and emissions for selected flights are displayed. Select several times for multiple flights to the same destination.
In Transit mode, multileg trips can be chosen. Select intermediate stops in turn, and click twice on the final destination.
All selected flights disappear when a new centre is chosen.
You have probably already noted that domestic or regional flights typically cause less than 1000 kg of CO2e emissions, while intercontinental flights range from 2000 kg up to 6000 kg.
There is good reason to be very concerned about these emissions:
Combatting climate change is certainly among the biggest challenges facing humanity. Preventing disastrous effects caused by global temperature increase will require major efforts and will affect us all.
Emissions from flying and how to reduce these is one part of this puzzle, where individual attitudes can exert pressure on politicians to act and where individual behaviour affects the outcome.
The numbers presented on the map are based on research by Larsson & Kamb [1,2]. They find a global average CO2 emission of 90 g per person km in 2017, caused by burning fossil fuel. In addition, greenhouse effects are caused by so-called non-CO2 emissions, including contrails (water vapour) and emissions of aerosols (small particles). These effects are short-term but potent. The scientific certainty for how to treat the non-CO2 emissions is very low, but we use the best current estimates , which suggest that one should add a further 90% to the CO2 emissions to account for these effects. This gives a total emission of 170 g per person km in CO2 equivalents.Historically, emissions per person km have decreased by around 2% per year. This would indicate 160 g per person km in CO2 equivalents for 2020, which is the figure we now use.
Emissions from a particular flight depend on many factors, such as type of aircraft, flight length and altitude, weather conditions, cabin factor, etc. One important factor in the context of this map is how emissions vary with distance. Long distance flights typically have lower emissions of CO2 per passenger km than shorter flights, since an aircraft emits less CO2 per km while cruising than during take-off. On the other hand, a larger share of the long-distance flight takes place at altitudes high enough to cause significant non-CO2 effects. Short distance flights, on the other hand, may not even reach high enough altitudes to cause contrails. Therefore, the additional 90% non-CO2 emissions described above is an underestimate for longer flights and an overestimate for shorter flights. As such, these two effects cancel each other out to some extent and the resulting CO2-equivalents per passenger km are on average similar regardless of distance.
Many flight emissions calculators are available online. In , several of these are compared. There are differences, but most calculators end up with CO2e emissions well in line with the figures used here.
Considering the uncertainties described above, we want to emphasize that the emission numbers we show are not as precise as they may seem. However, they give a relatively good estimate of the magnitude of the emissions from air travel.
Finally, we note that emissions also depend to a large extent on flight class. Our figures are based on flying economy class on a scheduled flight. A business class seat takes up more space and thus stands for a larger part of the aircraft's emissions. As a rule of thumb, to get the emissions from a business class journey, our figures should be multiplied by a factor of 2.2. Conversely,charter flights typically have higher cabin factor and smaller seat space, so our figures can be multiplied by 0.87 for charter flights in economy class.
The maps are built in Scalable Vector Graphics, which means that map images can be scaled arbitrarily without any decrease in quality in form of pixelation. Of course, the coastlines and country boundaries do not have infinite precision, but map images can be enlarged substantially, e.g. to poster size, with excellent results. The key to achieving the best possible quality is to avoid as long as possible converting the image to bitmap formats such as JPEG or PNG. Note also that the maps on touch devices have lower resolution.
The recommended way to proceed is as follows:
For particular purposes, the map can be further customized by adding information to the URL ("the web address"). As an example, we might want to display a map with the following non-standard parameters:
The URL to get this map is
Spaces within a city name must be encoded with %20, as in Los%20Angeles. Non-ASCII characters must also be URL-encoded, as in G%C3%B6teborg (for Göteborg). There are many free online encoders that can do this for you.
The map can be embedded in an iframe on a HTML page. The same type of URL is used, extended with a hash fragment, which sets all parameters. As an example, the following HTML code will result in a map frame of 800x600 pixels, centered at London, using the default value for emissions and clipping the map at 12000 km.
<iframe width="800px" height="600px" src="http://flightemissionmap.org/#London/51.50,-0.13/160/12000"> </iframe>
As the reader has already guessed, the latitude of London is 51.50 and the longitude -0.13 degrees.
The maps we generate use a projection (the equidistant azimuthal projection) with the following properties:
All the red straight lines from the centre are in the same scale, i.e. a route which is twice as long on the map is also twice as long in reality, etc. This is further illustrated by the circles showing flight distances causing emissions of 1000, 2000,... kg.
It should be noted that lines that do not pass the centre do not have these nice properties. All lines shown, also in multi-leg flights are along great circles, but they do not in general appear as straight lines. They are also not in scale and can be considerably elongated, in particular close to the edge of the map. The extreme case is the circle that forms the border of the map at radius 20000 km; all the points on this circle correspond to one point in the real world: the antipode of the centre, i.e. the exact opposite point on the globe.
You may recognize the initial map. This projection, with the North Pole in the centre, is what is used in the logotype of the United Nations.
The site is developed and maintained by Björn von Sydow in collaboration with Jörgen Larsson and Anneli Kamb at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The site should work well on a laptop or desktop computer using any major browser. It can also be used on touch devices, even though the lack of hovering and the small screen of phones make the experience less fluent.