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Searching for flights on Google has just turned “green”.

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A new search feature launched Wednesday tells users which flights have the lowest carbon emissions, giving them the ability to choose flights based on carbon emissions, such as price or number of layovers.

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A basic search for flights would estimate how many kilograms of carbon dioxide the flight would expel from start to finish. Users can prioritize their search based on emissions, just as they can by price if they wish. Flights with emissions below the median are highlighted in green.

Google said the estimates are a combination of data from the European Environment Agency and flight-specific information obtained from airlines and other providers. That data can include an aircraft’s age, model and configuration, the speed and altitude at which it is flying, and the distance between the flight’s origin and destination.

Google said some flights could not be estimated due to a lack of data or other missing information on some aircraft. The company said the estimates do not yet take into account which direction the aircraft is headed – a potentially important factor if in flight or along the jet stream, or whether the flight is using biofuels or other alternatives. .

FILE – A flight attendant passes a plane during the Singapore Airshow at Changi Exhibition Center in Singapore on February 11, 2020. (Photographer: Seongjoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Using the new equipment, the least-polluting flights from the Washington, DC, area to Chicago are all United flights using Boeing 737s. 128 kg of carbon dioxide falls 21% below the mean. An American Airlines flight from San Francisco to New York on another Boeing 737 with a stop in Dallas emits 535 kilograms of carbon dioxide, 9% less than the median for that route.

Stopping several times can often lead to an increase in emissions, but this is not always the case. Non-stop flights are not always less polluting, especially on longer routes. Google says a more fuel efficient plane can emit fewer emissions on a multiple-stop journey than older planes on a non-stop route.

Airplanes are responsible for a small portion of the emissions that cause climate change – about 2% to 3% – but their share is rising rapidly and with global increases in travel expected to nearly triple by mid-century. are supposed to.

Airline trade group Airlines for America says US carriers have more than doubled the fuel efficiency of their fleets since 1978 and are planning further reductions in carbon emissions. But the independent International Council on Clean Transport says passenger traffic is growing nearly four times faster than fuel efficiency, leading to a 33% increase in emissions between 2013 and 2019.

One way for people to find “eco-certified” hotels is the new emissions device following Google’s introduction last month. Also on Wednesday, Google introduced technology that allows drivers to find more fuel-efficient routes on Google Maps and from Google’s Nest Thermostat, an upgrade that will help people find energy from the power grid during daytime hours. When its sources are clean, such as wind and solar.

The new features are part of a sustainability initiative that Google CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted on Wednesday.

“Climate change is no longer a distant threat – it is becoming increasingly local and personal,” Pichai wrote in a blog post. “We need urgent and meaningful solutions to address this difficult challenge,” he said, adding that the company is committed to running its data centers and campuses on carbon-free energy by 2030.

Google, Alphabet Inc. Owned by, located in Mountain View, California.

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