Press release

The ICCT and Google establish new partnership on lower carbon travel search

12 July 2023 (Washington, D.C.) – The ICCT and Google are partnering to launch an Advisory Committee (AC) to enhance Google’s Travel Impact Model (TIM). In 2021, Google began estimating and sharing air-travel-related greenhouse gas emissions on Google Flights using the TIM. The partnership announced today sets the framework to refine and update the TIM to make it the global standard for accurate, transparent, and consistent emissions disclosure for all fliers.

The AC will provide strategic and technical input on refining the TIM by reviewing and recommending proposed changes to Google. The AC experts have been drawn from key industry stakeholders, including airlines, academia, leading academics, government representatives, and civil society. For further information on AC membership visit this website and see the parallel announcement on Google’s blog.

The ICCT will serve as a technical Secretariat for the AC and facilitate efforts to improve the TIM’s carbon dioxide (CO2) estimates, to incorporate non-CO2 climate pollutants like contrails, and to credit sustainable aviation fuels and zero emission planes. As technical Secretariat, the ICCT will collate and conduct technical research on topics selected by the Advisory Committee, and commission studies where needed.

ICCT research has shown that passengers can reduce per trip CO2 by up to 60% by choosing a lower-emitting itinerary due to differences including aircraft type, seating configuration, load factors, and routing. Even larger emission reductions are possible as airlines begin to deploy new low carbon technologies.

“Climate-conscious consumers understand that which flight you choose matters. But they want and need data to make informed decisions,” says Dr. Rachel Muncrief, the ICCT’s acting Executive Director. “We are delighted to partner with Google to help establish the TIM as the global standard for providing accurate, transparent, and consistent emissions information to consumers at the point of booking.”

“Everyone should be able to find reliable, accurate emissions estimates no matter where they’re booking a flight, and we believe the TIM can provide this kind of trusted, universal standard,” said Kate Brandt, Chief Sustainability Officer at Google. “Together with the ICCT and the new advisory committee, we can empower travelers around the world to make more sustainable choices.”

This partnership will further develop the TIM as a trusted source of data to support sustainable air travel. To be widely adopted by consumers, emissions estimates should be 1) accurate, as validated by real-world data; 2) precise in distinguishing between low and high-emitting tickets; 3) comprehensive of the full climate impacts of aviation; 4) futureproof across new aircraft and fuels; 5) fully transparent in methods, and 6) provide consistent results, both across carriers and booking platforms.

Google and the ICCT will also work with partners like Travalyst to ensure that the TIM is widely adopted. Google is also a member of the Travalyst Coalition, where leading travel and technological platforms collaborate pre-competitively to drive adoption of the TIM and in doing so, maximize consumer access to this information. Google and the ICCT will continue to leverage partnerships such as these to ensure the TIM is widely adopted across the travel industry.

The Advisory Committee will do its work through an annual in-person assembly, quarterly virtual meetings, and monthly work sessions. It will convene for the first time in Zürich, Switzerland this July. The AC will share its recommendations through its public website and provide progress updates at key aviation and climate meetings.

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About the International Council on Clean Transportation:

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) is an independent research organization providing first-rate, unbiased research and technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators. Our mission is to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of road, marine, and air transportation, in order to benefit public health and mitigate climate change. Founded in 2001, we are a nonprofit organization working under grants and contracts from private foundations and public institutions.

About Google:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Through products and platforms like Search, Maps, Gmail, Android, Google Play, Google Cloud, Chrome and YouTube, Google plays a meaningful role in the daily lives of billions of people and has become one of the most widely-known companies in the world. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.