Months of thinking, designing and engineering, GruenerFliegen.com is now online! We have learned a lot, met interesting people along this way and have received a whole bunch of support and ideas from partners, family and friends. All this is highly appreciated and we are happy to have taken this first step. “We” is a dedicated team of individuals with roots in aviation and travel. Philipp Gablenz, initiator of GruenerFliegen, has involved befriended experts and dedicated money, time and effort into this project. Not only to provide a modern and sustainable alternative to established search engines, but similar important with the goal to establish an independent service, which is beyond the influence of profit-oriented or lobbyism organisations.
Our goal – a carbon neutral travel industry
Air travel is a major contributor to global warming. The Covid 19 Pandemic caused an interruption, but there will be further growth in the future causing a further increase of emissions. The climate impact of flying will worsen further. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, soot and sulphur particles as well as water vapour from aircraft engines affect the climate with different durations and intensities.
There is no technical solution for carbon neutral air transportation yet and we know it will take time until such solutions are fully developled. One day there will be a zero-emission plane or a solare powered airship. In the meantime, emissions have to be reduced as much as possible and unavoidable emissions need to be compensated. Meeting the 2°C target, the maximum of further global warming acceptable, requires global carbon emissions to be at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and be reduced to virtually zero by 2100.
We can not trust in a voluntary self-regulation of the aviation industry. Some airlines went ahead and started offsetting their carbon emissions on behalf of their customer. Unfortunately these approaches do carry a high risk of companies exercising a well played public greenwashing, rather than really taking measures to reduce emissions.
Making a „qualified choice“
GruenerFliegen.com puts the decision on how much emissions are caused by a travel in your hands! Every flight harms the environment. But not every flight is equal, as every flight has its own specific emissions. And you should know these emissions. This will enable us to develop a ecological awareness, desperatly needed to deal with climate change. Emissions of flights should be transparent and known to become a factor in the passengers booking decision. This will allow what we call a “qualified choice”.
Every flights has its own climate footprint
Our simplistic assumption is: a customer preference for low emission flights will be a great incentive for airlines for change. We, the passengers, can make carbon reduction a matter of competition between airlines, by booking cleaner flights.. Wouldn’t that be an exciting push into real environment protection instead of relying on greenwashing?
So passenger can make a qualified choice to protect the climate by booking flights with lower emissions to reduce their individual carbon footprint. The second step should always be to compensate the rest of emissions in a voluntarily payment for environment projects. We have also considered this at GruenerFliegen.com, but let’s talk about our emission data first.
Independent, scientific and transparent emissions data
We first researched to find an industry-independent, scientifically sound and renowned data provider for flight emissions and ended up in Germany at atmosfair. atmosfair gGmbH is a non-profit climate protection organization based in Berlin, formed from a research project of the Federal Ministry of the Environment and a joint initiative of the tour operator association “Forum Anders Reisen” and the environmental and development organization Germanwatch in 2004.
Data sources come from independent scientific research only, never from airlines themselves
The emission calculation itself is based on the principle: as accurate as possible, but without apparent accuracy. When it comes to travel planning, you can only calculate the probable consumption of a flight. For example, if a jet needs to be redirected because of fog, or if the load is higher or lower than the average, this cannot be included in the calculation. The data sources come from independent scientific research projects or from specialized independent data service providers. In no case does atmosfair obtain data from the airlines themselves.
In addition to only CO₂ emissions, other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides or soot particles are included, which, in addition to CO₂, heat the climate. For this reason, the values for an air journey calculated at atmosfair are usually higher than with other emission calculators.
And now the magic happens
We have now combined atmosfair’s data with actually bookable flights of over 750 airlines worldwide. We have worked with the Berlin-based tech start-up UPPER to develop the search engine. For many weeks we worked together on our “greener flight search engine”. Mission accomplished:
Above all, we have been guided by the idea of what is important for the decision-making of the environmentally conscious traveler.
At a glance, we can now present all relevant travel data, the ticket price, the pollution per flight and the cost of compensation. All information is presented in detail and transparently and can be sorted as desired. For this purpose, we have programmed a decision aid for the “qualified choice”. This includes, of all things, the CO₂, value of a flight as the most important criterion, but also looks at the total travel time and the fare.
How can you book flights?
GruenerFliegen.com is an online flight search. However, we do not sell any flights ourselves. For this, we have decided exclusively on a partner, Kiwi.com. Kiwi.com is a world-leading online travel provider and one of the fastest growing companies in Europe.
For all itiniaries, Kiwi.com offers a guarantee in case you are stuck at an airport. In such a case, alternative flights to the destination will be offered or the cost of unused tickets will be refunded. In addition, the flights of all 750+ carrier are sold under the uniform business conditions of Kiwi.com. This allows connecting flight pairs of different airlines, which can only be offered with Kiwi.com. It also allows to connect between flights, bus and train, an offer we want to use and integrate at a later stage. The offer was actually developed to offer even cheaper fares. We will now used this option to find the most environmentally friendly connections!
Since Kiwi.com also offers all “traditional” flights, we are pleased that you can search and compare all flight options under uniform conditions. We forward our travelers with a good conscience to book with Kiwi.com.
Offset as crucial part of sustainable travel
The third important component of “green flying” is the voluntary compensation of the pollutants caused by the journey. Compensation (also called offset) cannot, of all things, solve the climate problem, because it does not change the actual CO₂ sources. However, it is necessary as the second best solution as long as the best solution does not yet exist. The best solution of course would be a carbon neutral travel option. Until then, it is up to the individual passenger to check the important steps before compensating: Sometimes an air journey can be replaced by a video conference, for example, or a long holiday can be booked instead of two shorter ones. And of all, you can now also find out which airline offers the most climate-efficient flight with gruener-fliegen.de to immediately reduce your impact.
One should make sure that the compensatory amount ends up where it is really needed. We have seen a lot of doubtful offers while conducting our research. But there are seals of quality, audited by external auditors. So we have set the certification of the projects according to the CDM Gold Standard (Clean Development Mechanism) as a requirement for GruenerFliegen.com. This standard is the strictest existing standard for climate protection projects worldwide.
We have chosen atmosfair as a partner for compensation in Germany. Passengers voluntarily pay a climate contribution dependent on their level of emissions, which atmosfair uses to develop renewable energies in countries where these are still scarce, especially in developing countries. In this way, atmosfair saves CO₂ that would otherwise have been generated by fossil fuels in these countries. At the same time, local people benefit, often for the first time, from access to clean and constantly available energy, a must for education and equal opportunities.
Cost for offset should be a “natural” part of your travel budget
Potential cost for offset are always included in the prices we display at GruenerFliegen.com. It is the sum of the ticket price and the offset. This is reflecting our believe, that offset is a “natural” part of your travel budget. This leads to a lower TOTAL PRICE for environmental friendlier flights, as they need lower offset. We believe that this TOTAL PRICE analysis is a further step that will move the aviation industry in a more sustainable and therefore more future-oriented direction.
Next steps for GruenerFliegen.com
Moving ahead we would like to inform you regularly about current developments in the field of sustainable travel, technical progress in aviation and interesting destinations for your travel plans. For this purpose, we will publish articles here or point you to informative and relevant publications and developments. So check in regulary to stay informed.
For us transparency, being independent from industry influence and operating a carbon neutral business are top priorities. We will therefore also write regularly about our own planning and our own thoughts on topics and publish them here.
On the product side the integration of bus and train traffic will be the next big step for us. We want to present bus and train connections as an alternative to flights wherever possible.
At the end of the day, we too have to consider how GruenerFliegen.com can be built sustainably. So far, we have used up our financial savings for the emission data and the development of the search engine. We think that’s ok because the result is really good. For every booking generated via GruenerFliegen.com we receive a commission. This is how we hope to finance our ongoing operation. After a test phase we want to decide whether we look for an investor (but then it’s about profit again) or whether we can finance this project by commissions only, .
How can you support us?
Thank you for reading to the end and stay healthy and happy!