Flying Green

Flying Green
On the Frontiers of New Aviation

Can flying be green?

Everyone loves to travel, and the industry’s room for growth seems almost limitless—except that flying will soon be responsible for 19 percent of global emissions. Some people have even decided never to fly. Over the coming decades, aviation will witness more innovation than at any time since the invention of the jet engine in the 1940s, transforming the way planes are powered and the way they look.

In Flying Green, Christopher de Bellaigue meets the inventors, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are at the frontier of new technologies, from a European startup that makes fuel out of thin air, to a California firm using hydrogen to power flight, and an airship called the Flying Whale. What will it take for a new generation of travelers to fly guilt-free? This is the story of the search for a way to fly green.

Read CGR Director Nicholas Lemann’s Letter to the Reader

Flying Green
  • ISBN: 9781735913780
  • Price: $16.00
  • E-book ISBN: 9781735913797
  • On Sale: April 4, 2023
  • Pages: 111


One of the Financial Times’ books to read in 2023

“[De Bellaigue’s] reporting is far more engaging than conventional accounts of efforts to make flying safer for the planet.” Financial Times

“De Bellaigue assesses current efforts to decarbonize jet fuel and find alternative fuels for flying in this rigorous account.” New York Times

“An exciting read that gives climate-minded travelers reason to hope that positive change is in the near future.” Kirkus Reviews

“An excellent overview of the current state of play and the possibilities for more rapid change.” Literary Review

“A snappy yet detailed guide to the challenges aviation faces in a world trying to transition away from fossil fuels.” Geographical

“Planetary mobility has been a remarkable gift in many ways—and at the moment a remarkable curse as well, as it helps overheat the planet. This is a fine catalogue of possible ways out (I favor the blimp) that will make for great reading on your next Amtrak trip.” —Bill McKibben, founder of

“Everyone who gets on a plane and knows about the catastrophic threat posed by global heating asks themselves if there is a green way to fly. Christopher de Bellaigue sets out the options in this excellent book.” —Tony Juniper, environmentalist

Flying Green tells an inspiring, deeply researched and dynamic story of the future of aviation. It’s a brilliant exploration of an industry in rapid transition with a dizzying array of new possibilities, providing us all with the hope of guilt-free flying again. Take it on your next flight!” —Jeremy Oppenheim, founder, SYSTEMIQ

“Exceptionally timely, and a remarkable combination of great writing and technical depth.” —Richard Aboulafia, managing director, AeroDynamic


Writing History Showed Me a New Way to View Climate Change — Literary Hub

Will flying ever be green? — Guardian

Flying Green — Keen On podcast

Flying Green, Climate Justice, and Higher Prices — WhoWhatWhy podcast

Christopher de Bellaigue on Making Flight Carbon-Friendly — American Purpose’s Bookstack podcast

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About the author

Christopher de Bellaigue
© Hugh Gilbert

Christopher de Bellaigue is a historian and journalist known for his reporting and books on the Middle East and environmental and ethical issues. He is the author of many books, including In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs, Rebel Land, Patriot of Persia, The Islamic Enlightenment, and The Lion House. He is a frequent contributor to the Economist, the New York Review of Books, and the Guardian. He is the recipient of a British Foreign Press Award and the Washington Institute Prize. He lives in London.  @bellaigueC