As the world imposed economic sanctions against Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Russia cut the world off from its airspace. This has added several hours to flights between Europe and Asia, which is a climate disaster.
Normally, a flight can cut directly through Russia when traveling from Europe to Aisa, or vice versa. Since this is no longer an option, flights now need to go around the coast of Russia to remain out of its airspace.
This has affected over 400 flights so far and is typically adding over 2 hours to each flight time. And the longer a flight, the more fuel it burns. By extension, this means more emissions it releases into the atmosphere.
Thus, Russia closing its airspace is another way it is harming the planet.
It’s A Lot Worse Than It Sounds
Now, an extra two hours of flight sounds terrible as a passenger. And some believe from an emissions standpoint, probably not that bad. Well, you would be wrong.
An extra 2 hours and 40 minutes added to a flight from Tokyo to London could result in an extra 20% in fuel usage. And unfortunately, most of these emissions are only counting carbon.
The truth is they release stuff way worse than carbon.
For those unaware, planes release carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulfur oxides (SOX), unburnt hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM), and even soot. Sadly, carbon is the impactful emission released in terms of greenhouse gas.
Now you may also be wondering how that can equate to 20% more emissions, and that’s understandable. The reason is exclusive to aviation.
You see, when a plane needs to travel further, it needs to carry more fuel. Obvious I know, but that extra fuel weighs the plane down more, thus they need to burn extra fuel to carry more fuel. It’s a vicious cycle as fuel usage is largely determined by weight.
Because without enough thrust, a plane weighing X amount of pounds would not be able to fly.
As you can imagine, the longer a plane needs to be in the air, the fuel usage increases significantly. This is why emissions also increase substantially.
Is There Another Option?
Honestly, as far as traveling goes, there isn’t another viable option. Russia is free to control its airspace regardless of the impact it has on the planet.
That said, businesses that need to make these flights should put more consideration into digital meetings. As the lockdowns proved at the beginning of the pandemic, many businesses can work efficiently using remote communications.
There are a ton of options when it comes to online meetings. Doing so isn’t just better for the environment either, as it can save businesses thousands of dollars on plane tickets.
It’s really just good business.
For those vacationing, the options you have may not be that great. You could continue with your trip, choose to not go, or try to go somewhere closer.
No Access to the Airspace of Russia Could Be The New Norm
There’s no telling how long the war in Ukraine could continue, and even if it stopped today, the sanctions could be in place for a long time. As such, this could be the new norm for the aviation industry.
And unfortunately, this could lead to a 1% increase in global emissions during a time when the world desperately needs to lower them.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.