Direct carbon dioxide emissions from civil aircraft

Atmos Environ (1994). 2014 Oct;95:214-224. doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.06.042. Epub 2014 Jun 20.

Abstract

Global airlines consume over 5 million barrels of oil per day, and the resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by aircraft engines is of concern. This article provides a contemporary review of the literature associated with the measures available to the civil aviation industry for mitigating CO2 emissions from aircraft. The measures are addressed under two categories - policy and legal-related measures, and technological and operational measures. Results of the review are used to develop several insights into the challenges faced. The analysis shows that forecasts for strong growth in air-traffic will result in civil aviation becoming an increasingly significant contributor to anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Some mitigation-measures can be left to market-forces as the key-driver for implementation because they directly reduce airlines' fuel consumption, and their impact on reducing fuel-costs will be welcomed by the industry. Other mitigation-measures cannot be left to market-forces. Speed of implementation and stringency of these measures will not be satisfactorily resolved unattended, and the current global regulatory-framework does not provide the necessary strength of stewardship. A global regulator with 'teeth' needs to be established, but investing such a body with the appropriate level of authority requires securing an international agreement which history would suggest is going to be very difficult. If all mitigation-measures are successfully implemented, it is still likely that traffic growth-rates will continue to out-pace emissions reduction-rates. Therefore, to achieve an overall reduction in CO2 emissions, behaviour change will be necessary to reduce demand for air-travel. However, reducing demand will be strongly resisted by all stakeholders in the industry; and the ticket price-increases necessary to induce the required reduction in traffic growth-rates place a monetary-value on CO2 emissions of approximately 7-100 times greater than other common valuations. It is clear that, whilst aviation must remain one piece of the transport-jigsaw, environmentally a global regulator with 'teeth' is urgently required.

Keywords: Aviation; Carbon; Emissions; ICAO; Mitigation.

Publication types

  • Review