The search for flights on Google is now “greener”.
A new search feature rolled out on Wednesday tells users which flights have the lowest carbon emissions, giving them the flexibility to choose flights based on carbon emissions just as they would for price or number of stopovers.
A basic flight search will give an estimate of how many kilograms of carbon dioxide the flight will spit out from start to finish. Users can prioritize their search by shows, just as they can by price, if they want. Flights with emissions below the median are highlighted in green.
Google said the estimates are a combination of European Environment Agency data and flight-specific information it obtains from airlines and other suppliers. This data could include the age, model and configuration of an aircraft, the speed and altitude at which it is flying, and the distance between the origin and destination of the flight.
Some flights may not have estimates due to a lack of data on some aircraft or other missing information, Google said. The company added that the estimates do not yet take into account the direction in which the plane is heading – a potentially important factor if you are flying in or with the jet stream, or whether the flight uses biofuels or not. other alternatives.
Using the new tool, the cleanest flights from the Washington, DC to Chicago area are all United flights using Boeing 737s. The 128 kilograms of carbon dioxide is 21% lower than the median. An American Airlines flight on another Boeing 737 from San Francisco to New York with a stopover in Dallas emits 535 kilograms of carbon dioxide, 9% less than the median for that route.
Multiple stops can often result in increased emissions, but this is not always the case. Non-stop flights are not always less polluting, especially on longer journeys. Google says that a more fuel-efficient aircraft may emit less on a multi-stop trip than an older aircraft on a non-stop route.
Airplanes account for a small portion of the emissions causing climate change – around 2-3% – but their share has grown rapidly and is expected to triple by mid-century with global travel growth.
Air transport group Airlines for America says U.S. carriers have more than doubled the energy efficiency of their fleets since 1978 and are planning further reductions in carbon emissions. But the Independent International Council for Clean Transport says passenger traffic is growing almost four times faster than energy efficiency, leading to a 33% increase in emissions between 2013 and 2019.
The new issuance tool follows Google’s introduction last month of a way for people to find “eco-certified” hotels. Also on Wednesday, Google showcased technology that allows drivers to find more fuel-efficient routes on Google Maps and from Google’s Nest Thermostat, upgrades that will help people find power from the grid. electric during the hours of the day when its sources are cleaner, such as from wind and solar.
The new features are part of a sustainability initiative, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on Wednesday.
“Climate change is no longer a distant threat – it’s increasingly local and personal,” Pichai wrote in a blog post. “We need urgent and meaningful solutions to tackle this urgent challenge,” he added, saying the company is committed to running its data centers and campuses with carbon-free energy by 2030. .
Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., is based in Mountain View, California.