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Virgin Atlantic to have world's first "net zero" transatlantic flight

Words by Tess Becker

Planes are the preeminent form of long-distance travel taking human beings just about anywhere they want to travel in just a few hours in a giant steel tube and a few tedious encounters through the airport. Technologically they’re marvels of travel but as society begins to focus on more eco-friendly forms of travel hoping to slow the effects of global warming the emissions produced by and fuel efficiency of air travel become incredibly apparent.

Airplanes emit around 100 times more CO2 per hour than a shared bus or train ride, and global aviation emissions are about 1 billion tons of CO2 per year — more than most countries, including Germany.

Some are trying to make flying more environmentally friendly and net-neutral in the future. 

Flying with Virgin Atlantic

One of the biggest eco-projects in flying right now is in the airline, Virgin Atlantic. They plan to have what’s being billed as the “world's first” net zero transatlantic flight. They plan to fly a Boeing 787 from London to New York powered solely by waste oils and fats.

The fuel, coming from waste oils and fats is what’s called sustainable aviation fuel or SAF. SAF is an alternative to fossil fuels that uses ingredients like cooking oils and agriculture waste, cutting carbon emissions by an average of 80%, according to IATA, the International Air Transport Association.

Around 450,000 flights have already been powered by SAF this will just be the first one to cross such a milestone by braving the Atlantic. 

The UK government, which supplied some funding to the project said in a statement that the flight’s carbon output will be totally “net zero” and that any emissions will be offset by what is called “biochar credits” or payments that support the use of an energy process that results in the safe storage of carbon.

“For decades, flying from London to New York has symbolised aviation’s ability to connect people and drive international progress,” UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper said. “It’s now going to be at the forefront of cutting carbon emissions from flying.”

The exact date for the flight hasn't been announced but it will be taking place sometime in 2023.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Responsible Production and Consumption.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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