Adding Carbon to the Equation in Online Flight Search to Promote Lower-Emissions Air Travel

Principal Investigator: Nina Amenta | University of California, Davis
Co-Principal Investigator(s): Angela Sanguinetti | University of California, Davis

Air travel represents about 2% of US greenhouse gas emissions. However, emissions for different flight itineraries with the same origin and destination can vary greatly, e.g., depending on number of connections and aircraft type. The researchers developed GreenFLY (greenfly.ucdavis.edu), a flight-search website that displays CO2 emissions estimates, to enable consumers to lower their carbon footprint by taking advantage of this variability. Their preliminary research suggests a site like GreenFLY promotes a willingness to pay for lower-carbon flights at a rate of $192/ton of CO2, dramatically higher than that seen in other contexts such as carbon offset programs.

This project will extend work on GreenFLY in two important ways. First, the researchers will study GreenFLY’s potential to lower the carbon impact of university employee travel. Second, they will explore consumers’ willingness to travel to a farther airport in order to get a nonstop flight with lower net carbon impact. The researchers will use these results to further develop GreenFLY, promote adoption of GreenFLY by organizations seeking to reduce their carbon footprints, and encourage commercial flight-search engines to incorporate emissions information.

Status: In Progress
Funding: $53,023
Sponsors: U.S. Department of Transportation

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