Aviation making growing contribution to global warming

Fuel consumption by civil aviation is expected to reach 300 million tonnes in 2015 and 450 million tonnes in 2050, compared to 130 million tonnes in 1992, with corresponding high emissions of greenhouse gases, a report has found.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s special report on the effect of aviation on the global atmosphere, “Aviation and the Global Atmosphere,” shows that air travel is projected to grow by about five per cent annually until 2015, burning three per cent more fuel per year in that period.

The report also shows that aircraft emissions, and their impacts, will be far greater in 2050 unless new technologies and operational modes are developed.

The report was developed over the last two years by a group of more than 100 scientists from around the world.

It represents the results of unprecedented collaboration between the IPCC and the Scientific Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and provides an assessment of the impact of aircraft engine emissions on climate and atmospheric ozone.

The aviation industry has undergone rapid growth and projections suggest that the trend is likely to continue. It is, therefore, highly relevant to consider current and possible future effects of aircraft on the atmosphere. The report considers all the gases and particles emitted by aircraft into the atmosphere and the role which they play in climate change, and modification of the ozone layer.

The report also considers how potential changes in aircraft technology, air transport operations and the institutional, regulatory and economic framework might affect emissions in the future. It describes the state of scientific knowledge together with associated uncertainties.

A unique aspect of this report is the integral involvement of technical experts from the aviation industry, including airlines and airframe engine manufacturers, alongside atmospheric scientists. This involvement has been critical in producing what IPCC believes is the most comprehensive assessment available of the effects of aviation on the global atmosphere.

The report is forwarded to the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to inform them about the possible influence of the aviation sector on climate change. The report was prepared at ICAO request.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie