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Nudging towards greener air travel behaviour

   Faculty of Environment

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  Dr Fangqing Song, Dr C Choudhury  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Global aviation contributes to around 5% of the current anthropogenic climate change. Air travel also causes other environmental issues, such as noise pollution in the vicinity of airports which may reduce sleep quality and children's learning performance. All these entail exploring approaches to alleviate the environmental impacts of air travel. This is especially relevant to the UK given its commitment to a 100% reduction in emissions (i.e. net zero) by 2050. Apart from enhancing the energy efficiency of aircraft and airports in their daily operation (e.g. taxiing, taking-off), renewable propulsion technologies (e.g. biofuels, liquid hydrogen) are gaining attention from the academia and industry. Besides, many airlines provide carbon-offset options in the flight booking platforms such that passengers can choose to offset the CO2 emitted during their air travel by paying for other CO2 reduction schemes. Furthermore, there emerges the anti-flying social movement, flight shame, which urges the public to avoid flying as much as possible. 

Studies are available in the field of new energy technologies regarding their mechanics, electronics, chemistry etc., and some scholars have also examined the impact of carbon offset on travel behaviour. However, research into passenger behaviour and travel demand in the context of net-zero aviation remains limited. For example, passengers' preferences towards various types of low/zero-carbon technologies and their willingness-to-pay for emission reductions in air travel requires closer examination; and exploration is still needed to better understand passengers trade-offs between different emission reduction activities (e.g. flying less, paying for carbon offset, and flying with greener aircraft). All these are essential to better forecast air travel demand and set out policies to encourage more sustainable air travel behaviour by passengers as well as appropriate investment in green energy technologies by airlines.

The objective of this PhD research is hence to explore how passengers can be nudged towards greener air travel behaviour and how airline companies can be nudged towards greener fleets from the perspective of behavioural economics using discrete choice modelling techniques, with an aim to provide empirical evidence regarding the effect and applicability of various nudges to support policy recommendations. 

Within this broad theme, the PhD student will have the option to investigate detailed research questions of interest. The project is complementary to the EPSRC funded project Towards Zero Carbon Aviation (TOZCA) Link: 

Funding Notes

This 3.5 years EPSRC DTP award will provide full tuition fees, a stipend at the UK research council rate (UK Sterling 15,840 for 2022/23), and a research training and support grant.

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