Pressure mounts on aviation industry over climate change

Cutting CO2 emissions is a major challenge given that the number of passengers is expected to double over the next two decades
Cutting CO2 emissions is a major challenge given that the number of passengers is expected to double over the next two decades

Under pressure from frequent flyers alarmed over climate change, the airline industry says it is "hellbent" on reducing emissions—but the technology needed to drastically reduce its carbon footprint is still out of reach.

In recent months climate activists have stepped up efforts to convince travellers to boycott , with Swedish schoolgirl and campaigner Greta Thunberg spearheading the trains-over-planes movement and making "flygskam", or flight shame, a buzzword in the Scandinavian country.

"The sector is under considerable pressure," admitted Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), whose members met this week in Seoul.

The industry has been under fire over its , which at 285 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometre travelled by a passenger far exceed all other modes of transport. Road transportation follows at 158 and rail travel is at 14, according to European Environment Agency figures.

De Juniac said the industry was "hellbent" on lowering emissions but the sector is also accused of underestimating its , with the IATA chief lobbying heavily against a "green tax" on aviation backed by several countries including the Netherlands.

"Often these taxes are absorbed in the budgets of states and are spent on whatever they want, except the environment," he said.

Some climate activists have been campaigning to convince travellers to boycott planes in favour trains, which produce just five
Some climate activists have been campaigning to convince travellers to boycott planes in favour trains, which produce just five percent of the CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre compared with air travel

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) estimates that air transport is responsible for two percent of global CO2 emissions—roughly equivalent to the overall emissions of Germany, according to consulting firm Sia Partners.

But also emit particles such as nitrogen oxides, which can trap heat at , meaning the industry is actually responsible for five percent of global warming, according to the Climate Action Network, an umbrella group of environmental NGOs.

The industry has committed to improving by 1.5 percent per year from 2009 to 2020 and stabilising its CO2 emissions in preparation for a 50 percent reduction by 2050 compared to 2005.

It is a major challenge given that the number of passengers is expected to double over the next two decades to reach 8.2 billion in 2037.

Biofuels, electric engines

Companies are banking on a new generation of less polluting planes with updated engines, aerodynamic modifications and fittings that weigh less—among them tablets to replace heavy pilot manuals.

The aviation industry is under pressure to reduce emissions
The aviation industry is under pressure to reduce emissions

However Shukor Yusof, analyst with Malaysia-based Endau Analytics, told AFP the industry had made progress but "that all these technological advances to cut emissions are tough to implement quickly due to the nature of the industry hemmed by high costs and the fact that planes typically take decades before they are replaced".

Philippe Plouvier, associate director of consulting firm Boston Consulting Group in Paris, said "the constant renewal of the fleet is a major part of it (cutting emissions)", explaining that the latest models of large aircraft reduce CO2 by 20 to 25 percent.

"But that only solves around 30 percent of the problem," he said. The rest, he added, can only be resolved by developing sustainable biofuels or turning to —technology which is currently impractical.

Several airlines have begun testing biofuels but production costs remain high and industry experts do not believe electric engines will be rolled out commercially for another two decades.

"Batteries today are still too big and heavy to be used as the main source of power for aircraft," said Leithen Francis, managing director of Singapore-based aviation public relations agency Francis & Low.

"Aircraft today take off heavy—because the aircraft is carrying a full load of fuel—but then then the aircraft uses up its fuel during the flight and lands light.

Switching from conventional jet engines to electric or biofuel is currently impractical for the aviation industry
Switching from conventional jet engines to electric or biofuel is currently impractical for the aviation industry

"Aircraft powered by batteries will take off heavy and then have to land heavy, so developing aircraft that can do that—without having a hard landings or causing structural damage to the airframe—will be a challenge," Francis told AFP.

The ICAO says better management of air traffic can help and a new generation of more fuel-efficient plane designs is predicted within five or ten years.

But time is not on the aviation industry's side.

A landmark UN report last year concluded that CO2 emissions must drop 45 percent by 2030—and reach "net zero" by 2050—if the rise in Earth's temperature is to be checked at the safer limit of 1.5C.

Plouvier of the Boston Consulting Group said to meet the 2050 goal, the aviation industry "must start today and very quickly".


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Aviation faces challenge to reduce pollution

© 2019 AFP

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Jun 09, 2019
More crocodile tears and big words.
How many extra acres of forest would it actually take to absorb their industries CO2 output?
That is A solution but I don't hear anyone offering to dip in their pocket, because tears and words are cheaper.

I don't even know if we have gone too far for that solution to work: Trees also emit water vapour which is a greenhouse gas and also lowers water tables. So diminishing returns may prevent it fixing our mega-scale population-driven problem.

The truth is they don't want a solution if they are the problem.

Jun 09, 2019
Solution to what "the narrative"? The earth has been warming since the last ice age. Why has this suddenly become a problem? Why isn't this discussed by the "climatologists"? How have we survived global warming for 10K years without any consequnces?

Jun 09, 2019
more comedy

Jun 09, 2019
If airlines were serious, they outlaw all private flights. EVERYONE flies together. politicians, celebs, rich. No more private flights

Jun 09, 2019
Talk to me when you get the Chinese to stop building new coal-fired power plants.

Jun 09, 2019
100% of all 'climate change' activism is political propaganda. There is no science, no truth, no evidence, no deterioration of life on the planet and little probability that any of the specious claims will stop anytime soon.
All the human activity on earth accounts for less than .0009% of all measurable pollution. Pollution is very real - but deleterious changes in the planets' climate is pure fiction. Those who are activists are campaigning for 'political concessions' and using the climate as a cudgel.
"The emperor has no clothes" ! There is no climate change occurring on earth - period!
If the activists and crusaders truly wanted to 'clean up the house' - they should start will that 'floating mass of trash and plastics' in the oceans. That is REAL. I would support that effort.
Carbon offset credits is another scam in the hoax. All they want is to be PAID. Carbon emissions are irrelevant, CO2 emissions are irrelevant and harmless. 'Greenhouse gases' is a totally specious phrase.

Jun 09, 2019
worried? do something.

plant trees.
paint all artificial sky-facing surfaces a reflective color.
don't allow your betters to fly chartered jets.

And at the end of the day, remember, Vikings raised cattle, barley and wheat on Greenland and Northern Europe raised grapes for wine and both did so for hundreds of years, until the end of the Medieval Warm Period (about AD 1300), when it became too cold. It's still too cold, remember that, it is still too cold.

Jun 09, 2019
You mean "there's no evidence except the fires in the US West, the floods in the US Midwest, the flooding septic tanks in Florida, the heat wave in India, ..."

Jun 09, 2019
Until China and India are involved, the C02 discussion is a waste of time.

Jun 09, 2019
Until China and India are involved, the C02 discussion is a waste of time.
No kidding.

Jun 09, 2019
Oh and BTW seems a million people have had to evacuate from southern China due to flooding.

The Chinese government is denying it and imprisoning journalists that report it. You know, those reeducation camps.

Jun 10, 2019
"Trains instead of planes" activists; the best way to describe them - " schnooks"

Jun 10, 2019
The climate has been changing since there was a climate to change. Humans certainly contribute to that change. If you take a leak in the Pacific ocean in Los Angeles though, you don't send out a tsunami alert to Japan.
All of the noise about climate change is nothing but an excuse to fleece the gullible among us. It would be to the benefit of our species if the climate did warm up. More of the planet would be available for us to exploit.
Trash thrown into our oceans pose a much greater threat to the planet than all of the carbon dioxide emissions combined. But until you get China and India to do something about that, we are wasting our time and resources trying to shame anyone for flying around in airplanes.

Jun 10, 2019
So that's it then?? We are so screwed; because no one wants to declare travel a luxury and an environmental hazard; and its going to keep on doubling every 20 years.

Liberty apparently means the right to destroy the environment because someone else is doing so.
So the truth is no-one wants a solution if they are the problem.

Keep on spewing those liberty molecules out of your liberty jet engines. Where did you say that planet B was again??

Jun 10, 2019
Over Population makes the largest contribution to all environmental impact. Deforestation, water supply, amount of people to feed, cloth, house, and travel. I love the cries of indignation when my carbon footprint is supposedly higher then a family of 5 if your family is bigger then two birthed children..you no longer can speak out without first making sure we understand your a hypocrite in the process.

Jun 10, 2019
Trees also emit water vapour which is a greenhouse gas.

No, WATER is NOT a "greenhouse gas" - doesn't matter which of its 3 states it's in. Water is WATER. What, about that, don't you understand?

The truth is they don't want a solution if they are the problem.

The "truth" is that there IS no "global warming", "climate change (man-made)"...yada, yada - whatever you warmies want to call it today.

Climate has been changing since time began. It's called "weather". Your "global warming" never WAS about the weather. It's the most grandiose international wealth redistribution scheme ever devised - IT'S A LEFTIST POLITICAL AGENDA. End of story.

Jun 10, 2019
Kinda hard to deny the heat wave in India, the fires in California, the floods and tornadoes in the US Midwest, not to mention heat waves in Europe and last year's hurricane and typhoon activity. Wake up. Smell the coffee. Denial is a river in Egypt.

Jun 10, 2019
So that's it then?? We are so screwed; because no one wants to declare travel a luxury and an environmental hazard; and its going to keep on doubling every 20 years.


Actually, we're screwed because there are so many gullible nitwits in the world unable to see that "global warming" never WAS about weather. It's a leftist political agenda, and it's the biggest international wealth redistribution scheme ever devised. The myth of "climate change"/"global warming" was outted as junk science years ago.

Jun 10, 2019
Looks more like the Russians and Chinese don't care how many of their own people die, as long as the Amurcans do some dying. Now you can call them leftists if you like. So feel free. But they look pretty right-wing to me.

You know, with all the arrests of journalists and concentration camps and shit.

Jun 10, 2019
Socialist Science (i.e. organized crime) principles:
(1) only socialists receiving taxpayer (government) handouts can be "scientists"
(2) socialist predictions overrule facts
(3) only "solution" to all real & imaginary problems is more socialism/less freedom

Socialist scientists have not one model that accurately predicts anything but their own dishonesty.

The Sun drives Earth's climate with an average of 1,368 Watts/m^2. A variation of only 0.2% of that equates to 1-year of human energy consumption.

CO2 is a mere trace gas at 0.038% of Earth's atmosphere. Plants thrive on CO2, which promotes greening of Earth. CO2 levels are not unprecedented. Socialist "scientists" selectively rejected high CO2 measurements in the 1800's to try to inflate the impact of CO2 in their unscientific models.

Emma Brindal of "Friends of the Earth" admits "climate change" is a means to a socialist end, "climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources."

Jun 10, 2019
1 molecule in 2600 is CO2 in our air. 380 ppm
1 molecule in 40 is Water Vapor in our air. 25,000 ppm
If CO2 affects climate at all, it is a minuscule amount.

Jun 10, 2019
This is Completely stupid.
The people that are pushing these changes are definitely not engineers.
Most likely, they are poorly educated SJW blowhards that are simply incapable of understanding how idiotic this is and are simply virtue-signaling. Brawndow, it has what plants crave.

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