How many people in your country regularly travel by air?

·2-min read
In the United States, only 12% of the population takes 66% of the total annual flights, while in the United Kingdom, only 15% of the population takes 70% of the total flights.

Air travel emits a significant amount of CO2. However, people who travel regularly by plane represent a small part of the world population. In the United States, just 12% of the population accounts for 66% of all flights taken.

Giving up flying has become an environmental act, better known as "flygskam," a concept from Sweden that means "flight shame," referring to the pollution emitted by air travel. But only a small part of the world's population can actually afford the "luxury" of regular air travel.

A recent report by UK-based climate charity "Possible" titled " Elite Status: global inequalities in flying " shows that less than half of the population flies several times a year. According to this survey, in the United States, only 12% of the population takes 66% of the total annual flights, while in the UK, only 15% of the population takes 70% of the total flights. As for France, 50% of the flights were taken by only 2% of the population in 2008. "This pattern is repeated across the world, in countries including Canada, India, China and the Netherlands," says the study.

This report used pre-pandemic data from 26 countries with the world's highest absolute aviation CO2 emissions (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia and South Africa were not included in the study due to insufficient data).

In view of these results, the representatives of the NGO Possible plead for the introduction of a "frequent flyer levy." "Targeting climate policy at the elite minority responsible for most of the environmental damage from flights could help tackle the climate problem from flying without taking away access to the most important and valued services which air travel provides to society," suggests Leo Murray, director of innovation at Possible.

In November 2020, a study published in the journal Global Environmental Change showed that heavy air travelers make up just 1% of the world's population and were responsible for half of the carbon emissions from aviation in 2018.

Léa Drouelle