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  • Environment Sustainability
3 January 2024

How to Pick Your Flight CO2 Calculator?

As environmental awareness grows, leisure and business travelers seek better ways to identify, understand and mitigate their carbon footprint from flying. Unfortunately, the market is flush with carbon calculators developed without any standardized approach and proper methodology. Consequently, these calculators yield inaccurate and inconsistent results, leading many consumers to mistrust these kinds of tools. 

To mitigate this problem, airlines and air travel organizations should provide accurate and reliable information regarding flight carbon emissions to ensure that their customers trust their CO2 reporting. 

ATPCO CEO Alex Zoghlin clearly outlines this issue —

“We’ve had customers asking for a CO2 Calculator for a long time.  There are many corporations and even leisure travelers that are wondering what impact they’re having on the environment.  So, having a consistent way to collect emissions data and compute it across all carriers is important for everybody.” 

Customers should have access to a calculator that provides accurate, consistent CO2 emissions reporting based on established, industry-approved methodology and high-quality data. A precise and reliable CO2 emissions calculator will always fulfill three essential requirements.   

Here is a breakdown of each requirement: 

1. Premium Data Sources and Established Calculation Methodology 


A calculator’s emissions evaluations and reporting are only as good as the data it uses in its calculations.   

When looking at a calculator’s data source, ask yourself, “Is this calculator’s data based on actual operational data from airlines, or is it using theoretical modeling of aircraft performance?” If it’s the latter, you might be dealing with a calculator that provides inaccurate CO2 estimates and contributes to undesirable inconsistency in carbon reporting across the travel value chain.  

The advantage of using actual operational data over theoretical estimates is that it reduces uncertainty in modelling CO2 emissions. At the moment, IATA CO2 Connect is the only calculator in the market that directly sources data from airlines, including fuel burn and load factors, which gives it advantage over the other available solutions. 

For example, to calculate passenger CO2 emissions for a flight from London to New York, IATA CO2 Connect would, depending on data availability, use either airline specific fuel burn per aircraft type or industry average fuel burn per aircraft type, other calculators would have to rely on theoretical models instead. 

To arrive to accurate CO2 estimates, one also needs to use a robust and recognized calculation methodology. Unfortunately, many calculators available in the market rely on arbitrary methodologies that were developed without proper expertise and industry guidance. In contrast, IATA CO2 Connect calculator is built on RP 1726 - a methodology that was developed by IATA and other industry experts to ensure that it has valid assumptions and is recognized both inside and outside the industry. 

2. A Comprehensive Data Scope


While high-quality data is vital, the breadth and quantity of data that a calculator utilizes are equally important. Some calculators might use high-quality data sources, but the data itself has a limited range that is insufficient for accurate and transparent reporting. 

When looking at your CO2 emissions calculator, consider the extent and coverage of the data that the calculator relies on.   

Currently, the highest industry standard for coverage comes from IATA’s CO2 Connect, which uses actual airline data from 75 aircraft types, representing approximately 98% of active global passenger fleets, and air traffic data from 881 aircraft operators, accounting for 93% of international air travel. 

Given the extensive coverage and depth of this data source, IATA CO2 Connect can display the variance between airlines’ emissions depending on their use of a fuel efficiency programs, capacity management, or the aircraft type used.   

Once again, this is the level of detail required to make the optimal and most environmentally conscientious flight choices for business or leisure. 

3. A Granular and Global Prespective


To better understand carbon emissions from all your flights, you need a calculator with a global scope and not just limited to specific routes. You need a tool that reliably accommodates key flight differentiators like airline choice, origin and destination of the trip, aircraft type, and seasonality. CO2 Connect meets all these criteria, giving you accurate CO2 emissions estimation wherever you fly  to help you decide more about your next trip. 

More Environmentally Conscious Now and in the Future 

Selecting a carbon emissions calculator takes energy and consideration.  But taking the time to evaluate the accuracy of the calculator’s data, the methodology used, and the organization that developed the tool is a valuable way to narrow down what will work best for you. 

Consider the growing demand for accurate emissions reporting


Emissions reports are coming under increasing scrutiny — accuracy is vital.   

Governments are likely to develop new regulations for emissions reporting in upcoming years. And increasingly savvy consumers want to feel confident that their flight choices fulfill personal and professional environmental mandates. 

That’s why you want to use an emissions calculator with a model that can accommodate new regulations and changing accounting principles in the future, such as the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).   

A calculator's accuracy and reliability are only as good as its usability. When choosing your calculator, try to find one that optimizes your processes and quickly makes it easier to gain accurate insights! Best-in-class carbon calculators are easy to use and integrate into existing systems. 

Want to know more about emissions calculations? 


Here’s how IATA’s CO2 Connect calculates CO2 emissions — 

In this example, IATA CO2 Connect calculates an individual passenger’s flying economy route from BKK to SIN.  The calculation does not use actual airline data and is only intended for illustrative purposes.

Want to see how IATA CO2 Connect can help you? 


Talk to our experts to discover how this innovative tool can fulfill your environmental targets. 

Talk to our IATA CO2 Connect team

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