Passengers’ environmental awareness and travel behaviour

Passengers’ travel behaviour can be influenced by various factors, such as disposable income, travel purpose, age group or technological affinity (see also #blogpost7 Passengers expectations: door-to-door travel and beyond). One of these influential factors is the environmental awareness of passengers and in which way it impacts – or even alters – travel behaviour.

Air transportation emits greenhouse gases and hence has a potential harmful effect on our environment in the form of CO2 emissions, for example. Passengers contribute to this by their choice of means of transport, their choice of holiday destinations and kilometres travelled (Cohen and Higham, 2011; Brouwer et al., 2008).

Overall, air travel passengers seem to have a basic understanding of the environmental impact and many also have pro-environmental values. However, according to several studies it does not result into behaviour changes of passengers yet. It is hence not a factor influencing their holiday planning, the choice of a destination and the type of transportation (Hares et al., 2009; Böhler et al., 2006). Research also reveals that the willingness of passengers to pay for carbon offsetting schemes, one possibility to neutralize emissions generated by one’s own journey without compromising the means of transport or influencing the decision on holiday destinations, is low as well (Eijgelaar, 2009; Mair, 2011).

The three main barriers towards pro-environmental behaviour change are a lack of alternative transport systems, the high value of holidays with the freedom to travel to every destination one wants, and the lack of feeling personal responsibility for climate change (Hares et al., 2009; Böhler et al., 2006). However, within some recent studies, evidence emerged showing an increasingly pro-environmental awareness in passengers’ mind-set and a willingness to actually change air travel behaviour in the future (Cohen and Higham, 2011; Gössling et al., 2009).

To sum up, environmental awareness among passengers seems to be already present but does not lead to current behaviour changes. This, among other factors, will be explored within DATASET2050 and it will be modelled how such drivers influence the travel demand of air transport passengers in the future.



  • Böhler, S., Grischkat, S., Haustein, S. and Hunecke, M., 2006. Encouraging environmentally sustainable holiday travel. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 40(8), 652-670.
  • Brouwer, R., Brander, L. and Van Beukering, P., 2008, “A convenient truth”: air travel passengers‟ willingness to pay to offset their CO2 emissions, Climatic Change, 90(3), 299-313.
  • Cohen, S.A. and Higham, J.E., 2011, Eyes wide shut? UK consumer perceptions on aviation climate impacts and travel decisions to New Zealand, Current Issues in Tourism, 14(4), 323-335.
  • Eijgelaar, E., 2009, Voluntary carbon offsets a solution for reducing tourism emissions? Assessment of communication aspects and mitigation potential, Transport and Tourism: Challenges, Issues and Conflicts, 46-64.
  • Gössling, S., Haglund, L., Kallgren, H., Revahl, M. and Hultman, J., 2009, Swedish air travellers and voluntary carbon offsets: towards the co-creation of environmental value?, Current Issues in Tourism, 12(1), 1-19.
  • Hares, A., Dickinson, J. and Wilkes, K., 2009, Climate change and the air travel decisions of UK tourists. Journal of Transport Geography, 18(3), 466-473.
  • Mair, J., 2011, Exploring air travellers‟ voluntary carbon-offsetting behavior, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19(2), 215-230.

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