Aviation emissions rising up faster than predicted

Aviation emissions are growing fast, they account for more than 2% of global emissions. The International Aviation Organisation report about trends in emissions that affect climate change shows, that without putting additional measures, the aviation emissions could grow by over further 300% by 2050.

The emission trend has been visualised on the graph that included analysis from year 2010 to extrapolation beyond 2045. The emissions projection after year 2020 consists of additional contribution of technology improvements and of improved ATM and infrastructure use. It is said that by 2045, fuel consumption is projected to increase by 2.2 to 3.1 times compared to 2015, which depends on the technology and ATM scenarios.

Emissions from aviation significantly contribute to climate change. Transport and Environment website empathizes the importance of reducing airline emissions, as the emissions from aviation are said to be growing faster than any other mode of transport. The source says that if unmitigated, aviation emissions are expected ‘to double or triple by 2050 and in doing so consume up to one-quarter of the global carbon budget under a 1.5 degree scenario’.

EU emissions trading system covers all flights within Europe. The scheme includes emissions from flights to and from the continent from 2012. According to an official website of the European Union, ‘a cap-and-trade scheme would see the number of pollution permits, known as allowances, decrease to zero over time’. The source says:

“However strong international opposition, stoked by industry both within and outside Europe, forced the EU in late 2012 to exempt from the scheme all flights to and from Europe. This remains the case today, with the exemption now set to continue until at least 2024.”

An official website also says that the reform introduced in 2017 means that ‘the number of allowances granted annually to the aviation sector will start to decrease after 2021 and end in 2068, meaning the European aviation sector will eventually have to decarbonise’.

The EU emissions trading system is said to remain one of the few measures in place attempting to address soaring emissions in the sector and includes CO2 emissions from aviation since 2012. The Transport and Environment website describes that under the EU ETS, ‘all airlines operating in Europe, European and non-European alike, are required to monitor, report and verify their emissions and to surrender allowances against those emissions’.

Human impact on the climate change is clear. In the summary of report called “An Introduction to market-based measures” by ICAO, the action is required by all sectors to address the climate change challenge and that if the aviation sector wants to continue growing, ‘it needs to explore all means of addressing emissions’. Market-based measures are introduced as a cost-effective solution for addressing emissions at a global level.

They outlined three main types of market-based measures:  levies, emissions trading and offsetting. The first one is described as a ‘measure for collecting revenue arising from a specific activity’. The emissions trading is explained as a cap that is ‘placed on aggregate emissions within a country’ and the units are created equal to the size of the cap, which are then distributed to emitters – they need to ‘obtain and redeem units to cover its emissions’ which is done typically on an annual basis. The last one is about not reducing an emitter’s own emissions, but instead it’s about reducing emissions in another sector of location. The source addresses those market-based measures from the climate change perspective saying:

“Market-based measures (MBMs) can help meet climate goals through a more flexible approach than traditional regulatory measures (‘command-and-control’).”

The market-based measures are showed as providing flexibility to emitters, by giving them ‘alternative methods of reducing emissions’ in the aviation context. It is especially important, because the aviation sector is said to face high costs for making in-sector reductions.

According to the Transport and Environment:

“In October 2016 ICAO agreed the outlines of a global market-based measure to address CO2 emissions from international aviation, starting as a voluntary measure from 2021. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation aims to stabilise CO2 emissions at 2020 levels. The measure will be voluntary until 2027 and mandatory on nearly all states thereafter until 2035.”

By  Julita Waleskiewicz

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