CAA moves towards ‘green rating’ on flights

12 Jan 2023 by Tom Otley
Delta A2ASeattleBoeing

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is seeking views on what environmental information should be provided to people when they are booking flights.

It follows consumer research undertaken by the CAA in 2021, which found that consumers want more information on the environmental impact of aviation and on the impact of their own travel choices.

The research found that most consumers were concerned about the environment, but there was only a limited awareness of the specific environmental impacts of flying.

Lack-of-understanding CAA

Whilst most had a broad perception of the aviation sector being ‘bad’ for the environment, many participants lacked a meaningful understanding of their individual impact and so weren’t motivated to consider it.

Even though most participants hadn’t sought out emissions information, they thought that this kind of information should be universally provided across all sectors. Participants tended to see this information as having two core purposes, firstly to inform the public about the relative impacts of flying and secondly to hold airlines accountable for aviation impacts and encourage them to reduce emissions.

Most were looking for shortcuts to identify more sustainable choices in their day-to-day lives (such as logos and symbols) – with a much smaller number engaged in deeper fact finding and trade-offs.

The research found that ‘Green ratings’ was the clear winner out of the three proposed designs which were tested

The regulator says that some organisations currently provide environmental information, but there is not a standard approach to what information is provided, how it is calculated, and how it is displayed. It also says that standardising this approach will help people find reliable information, at the point of looking for and booking flights, in a format that is understandable, increasing confidence to make decisions on whether and how they travel.

Views are being sought from a wide set of stakeholders including commercial and general aviation industries, consumer groups, environmental organisations, and other organisations that hold or use information that relates to the impact of aviation on the environment.

The work is part of the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which supports the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy to deliver net zero aviation by 2050.

Lack-of-individual-accountability CAA

Nic Stevenson, Head of Strategy at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:

“Better understanding the most effective type, format, and communication of environmental information will help us achieve the goal of supporting the government’s net zero aviation target. I encourage everyone to help inform the way passengers are provided access to accurate and relevant information about the environmental impact of their flights.

“That information plays a key role in regard to the choices consumers make, and providing trustworthy data enables more sustainable choices.”

The Call for Evidence can be accessed here, and runs until 7 April 2023. A consultation will launch later this year with a set of proposals that this work will inform.

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