How the flight calculator works
Our flight emissions calculator estimates the carbon dioxide emissions from your flying based on the number and distance of the trips you take. The calculator relies on several assumptions to come up with this estimate, so the final amount should be regarded as a guide rather than a precise figure. Our assumptions are based on the greenhouse gas emissions protocols developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
We start by calculating the distance between your origin and destination, based on their latitude and longitude. For each trip, we estimate how much fuel was burned per passenger for that particular flight based on industry averages. Because planes burn more fuel at takeoff and landing than at cruising altitude, longer trips are more fuel-efficient.
The actual amount of fuel burned per passenger depends on the type of plane, the number of people flying, the weight of the cargo, weather and other factors. But on average, the resulting flight emissions profile provides a good approximation of the global warming impact of your flying. Chances are, it’s bigger than you thought.
Scientists believe that emissions released at high altitudes contribute more heavily to climate change than emissions at ground level. Some flight emissions calculators apply a multiplication factor to their results to account for this effect. In keeping with the WRI protocol, TerraPass does not apply a multiplication factor at this time, although we continue to monitor this issue and may make changes in the future.