Environment and air travel: the French are concerned but not very engaged

The Chaire Pégase (Montpellier Business School) has just published a report on innovation in aviation for a more sustainable future. The results show that, while the French are concerned by the subject, they know little about the innovations that make greener aviation possible, and even less about making efforts in this direction.

The environment, a present but distant concern

The French are concerned about the environment, as we knew, and this is what 79% declare. But when it comes to air transport, the environmental issue is no longer top of mind.

Only 12% say they are ashamed to fly, but 41% say they are trying to fly less (try….). And only 36% choose a mode of transport based on environmental criteria when given the choice.

Innovation in the airline industry remains little-known…

Nevertheless, the sector is innovating to reduce its emissions and move towards carbon neutrality. But these innovations are little known to the general public.

While 50% know about the hydrogen engine, only 43% know about new aircraft designs, 29% about sustainable fuel (SAF), and 19% about new engine types!

Concerned but uninformed, that’s nothing new. A previous report by the same Chaire Pégase showed us that although the French were (already) sensitive to environmental issues, they were totally unaware of the contribution of air travel to carbon emissions, which they greatly overestimated.

And yes, the clothing sector and the Internet pollute more than air travel.

…. and moderately acceptable

The study also looks at the acceptability of these innovations to the general public. While the above-mentioned forms of innovation are fairly well accepted without generating much enthusiasm, new forms of motors are greeted with more skepticism.

What’s more, these innovations are perceived as being a long way off: half the respondents don’t think they’ll be flying an aircraft using them for at least 10 years, between 10 and 25 years for 1/4 of them.

In the meantime, a fairly weak effort

While waiting for these innovations to become available, they said they were ready to reduce their flights by 14.5%, the number of those willing to do so being inversely proportional to the number of flights they have taken in their lives.

Once again, this seems to be in line with another study by Chair Pégase, which showed (although this report only concerned young people) that the younger generations, although declaring themselves very sensitive to the subject, had little intention of making an effort.

Bottom line

A study that shows some interesting things, and some more worrying ones.

Among the good news is the public’s concern for the environment, and the fact that “green” innovation in the airline industry is relatively well accepted.

Among the areas of concern, as we saw in a previous study, is the lack of information available to the public on the subject and the efforts that are being made. Lack of interest from the public? Poor industry communications? There must be a bit of both, and unfortunately it’s not the first time we’ve had to regret it.

Secondly, and this is a fact against which the study can do nothing, there is the possibility of respondent bias: there is always a tendency, when faced with this type of question, to adopt a certain form of conformism.

Are you sensitive to the environment… a little but not too much, but given the context of the study, I’d say yes.

How much less flying am I prepared to do? Let’s give a random number…not too many, but a few to show we’re making an effort. And even if the study is about the environment, we can’t help but think that inflation reigns in the respondents’ subconscious when it comes to giving an answer.

So are the French concerned by the subject? Certainly! Do they want to make an effort? In their own words, not too much, and in reality, certainly less.

Image : hydrogen engine by Wirestock Creators via Shutterstock

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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