Though airlines around the world have taken many strides towards making air travel more environmentally friendly, the industry still relies heavily on fossil fuels.
According to a 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office on aviation and climate change, air travel is responsible for roughly 2 percent of the global carbon-emissions produced by humans. However, in recent years, several airlines have been making steps toward replacing carbon-based jet fuel with biofuels – which can be made from plants and other living organisms as well as recycled cooking oils.
On June 18, Flight AC991 from Toronto to Mexico City became the first Air Canada voyage to utilize biofuel. A press release from the airline states that the flight would produce 40 percent fewer emissions by using a 50/50 combination of standard jet fuel and fuel made from recycled cooking oil.
Although commonplace jet fuel is still the norm across the industry, Air Canada isn't the first airline to experiment with alternative energy sources. The Huffington Post reports that KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair, Thomson Airways and AeroMexico have all invested significantly in biofuels. In addition, big name American companies like U.S. Airways, Delta and American Airlines have also pledged to investigate renewable energy options.
The source states that this flight was deliberately schedule to fall in line with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, and was organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
But, converting to biofuel isn't the only way for these business to reduce their carbon emissions. Airlines have also reportedly lowered overall energy consumption by implementing eco-friendly practices like limiting taxiing on the runway and modifying takeoff and landing procedures.