Van de Weijer: ‘no need to be ashamed for flying on circular fuel’
Carlo van de Weijer is director smart mobility at the Technical University of Eindhoven. In this week’s column in Het Financieele Dagblad, he expounds his remarkable vision on flying.
According to van de Weijer, it will be politically difficult to reserve flying for the happy few, as it used to be. But, van de Weijer says, we cannot ignore the fast-growing CO2 and other emissions either.
To think we can solve the problem by investing in trains is a mistake. It would be far too expensive to keep a network of high-speed trains operational.
Cheap and efficient
People often say flying is cheap because there are hardly any taxes. Flying, however, is affordable because it’s an extremely efficient way of transporting many people at the same time at high speed. Moreover, aviation hardly needs any infrastructure, which also means flying is flexible.
Any flight with some hundreds of people on board will be more efficient than a train. Even when it comes to energy consumption, noise, particles, flying will be more valuable than traveling by train.
Flying should be fairly taxed, though, says van de Weijer. When the negative consequences of flying would be compensated by a tax, a ticket would cost an extra 1,8 euro cent per passenger kilometer, research institute CE Delft calculated. When, on top of that, countries would pay a kind of value-added tax, flying in Europe would hardly become more expensive.
One day we will fly electrically, but the technology will probably be limited to short distance flights. “The only structural way to fly in an environmentally friendly way will be by using fuel based on electricity, or so-called circular fuel, made from electricity, water, and CO2,” van de Weijer explains. “And that’s a mind-shift. We’re used to making electricity from fuel, but it’s perfectly possible the other way around.”
According to van de Weijer, in thirty years – or hopefully sooner – this will be the most normal thing in the world. We will consider flying the most sustainable way for long-distance transport. Only then we will be beyond shame for flying.”