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Mapping Bristol’s growing air traffic carbon footprint

By Adam Cantwell-Corn, Dean Ayotte and Pauline Maugueret.
Graphic design by Woody.

Whilst getaways and family visits are needed, with the expansion of Bristol Airport on the cards what impact is having on climate change?

With the International Panel on Climate Change estimating that aviation will contribute 5% of human-made climate change by 2050, this exclusive research by the Bristol Cable crunches the numbers and carbon footprint* of flying in Bristol by comparing like for like flight data from June 2005 and June 2015.

05-06-flights - 1Air travel has seen a dramatic expansion of affordability and uptake. Massively aided by public subsidies in the form of tax exemptions on fuel, estimated to be worth £8.5 Billion a year to the sector, 238 Million passenger took flights in 2014. Bristol has seen its fair share of increasing traffic too, with over 200,000 more passengers in June 2015 than in June 2005.

*Methodology and sources:

  • For ease of viewing, we have only selected the like for like top 8 flights in terms of passenger number increases and bottom 2 flights in passenger number decreases from June 2005 to June 2015. The figures given elsewhere are for 20 countries.
  • Where data does not exist for both 2005 and 2015 these flights have not been included, however there would be large net increase of passenger and carbon in 2015 if they were included.
  • Where destination countries have multiple airports we have calculated the average carbon footprint of all flights to that country
  • This research only includes the output of carbon from flights (as calculated per passenger using the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s carbon emissions calculator for an economy class return journey). As such these calculations do not include other greenhouse gases emitted during flight or by attendant airline and airport activities. This means that the overall environmental impact of flying from Bristol will be much higher than demonstrated here.
  • Full data as obtained from the Civil Aviation Authority will be made available online.


05-06-flights - 3-key05-06-flights-3-right

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