Google Flights update helps users find flights with lower carbon emissions

Google is working on making its own operations more sustainable and less polluting, and enabling users of its apps and services to make greener choices. Recently we talked about Google Maps updates that allow users to choose navigation routes that consume less fuel. Google has also made updates to its Google Flights function that allows users to choose flights based on estimated carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions estimates data for most flights in Google Flights search results is available beginning today. Google wants to enable users to not only choose flights based on price and flight duration, but also on how much the flight would pollute. Google's emissions estimates are specific to each flight and specific to the seat chosen.

Anyone wondering how one flight to the same destination might pollute less than another flight traveling the same route, it has to do predominantly with the age of the aircraft. Newer aircraft are less polluting than older aircraft. Pollution changes based on the seat because first-class seats take more space than economy seats and account for a larger share of the overall emissions on a flight.

Google Flights will label flights with lower emissions with a green badge. Sorting options will also allow the sorting of flight choices based on carbon impact bringing the least polluting flights to the top of the list. To arrive at the carbon estimates for the flights, Google combines data from the European Environmental Agency with specific information about individual flights from airlines and other providers concerning the aircraft type, number of seats in the aircraft, and trip distance.

Google believes that it's critical for people to find accurate carbon emissions estimates no matter where they booked flights. To help enable that, Google is helping to develop an open model for calculating carbon emissions for air travel and is working to promote standardization using the framework across the travel industry.