Google Now Displays Emissions on Flight Searches. Will Passengers Care?

Looking to become a more eco-concious traveler? Google is making that extremely easy for you.

Google Now Displays Emissions on Flight Searches. Will Passengers Care?

In the latest installment in a series of sustainable travel features launched by Google in recent weeks, is a new feature, located squarely between the price and duration of the flight, that while will allow users to carbon emissions for virtually every flight option.

“These emissions estimates are flight-specific as well as seat-specific. For instance, newer aircraft are generally less polluting than older aircraft, and emissions increase for premium economy and first-class seats because they take up more space and account for a larger share of total emissions,” VP of Travel Products Richard Holden wrote in a blog post.

“To put these estimates in context, flights with significantly lower emissions will be labeled with a green badge. And if you want to prioritize carbon impact, you can sort all of the results to bring the greenest flights to the top of the list,” he added.

You can now sort results based on their carbon emissions
You can now sort results based on their carbon emissions

The user experience is pretty straightforward (if not a little lackluster) as far as new Google features go, but it does, at the very least, succeed in making you confront your guilt for a brief second. And if you book flights frequently? Many brief seconds.

The new feature comes just a week after the platform began assigning some hotels a green “Eco-certified” label next to their rating, symbolizing each hotel’s commitment to sustainability as recognized by a third-party agency and based on a set ​of globally recognized criteria. That evaluation focuses on environmental impact from four categories: energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction and sustainable sourcing.

“”We’ve seen a steady, consistent increase in searches for more sustainable travel for a long time, in fact, since 2004,” senior product manager of Google Flights James Byers told USA Today. “What we’re finding is that this is top of mind for lots of travelers, especially as habits change, and especially as we see more awareness of the effects of climate change.”

And there’s apparently more to come, too. So, in short, it’s time to get with the program. Google, for all of its faults, is working overtime to eradicate any possible remaining justification you may have for not traveling with a lens of sustainability over all of your purchases. Pay attention to carbon emissions. Stay at an eco-certified hotel. The literal world will be better for it, and anyone who travels should have a vested interest in that.


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