Direct carbon dioxide emissions from civil aircraft

Article English OPEN
Grote, Matt ; Williams, Ian ; Preston, John (2014)

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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>
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