Aviation creates 5% of climate impacts and growing—more than most countries
- "Work by the IPCC (International
Panel on Climate Change) has been updated by the same authors. They
estimate that aviation accounted for 4.9% of man-made climate impacts in
2005. This contrasts with the 2% figure that is constantly quoted by
aviation lobbyists.Just two years ago the authors came up with a figure
of 3% for aviation’s worldwide contribution to climate change. They have
now revised their estimate for 2005."
— Aviation Environment Federation summary, based on "Aviation and Global Change in the 21st Century" by D.S. Lee et al
- "In the United States, domestic
aviation contributes about 3 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions,
according to EPA data...Aviation Contributes about 3 Percent of All
Human-Generated Emissions. When other aviation emissions—such as
nitrogen oxides, sulfate aerosols, and water vapor—are combined with
carbon dioxide, aviation’s estimated share of global emissions increases
from 2 percent to 3 percent, according to IPCC."
— United States Government Accountability Office, Aviation and Climate Change report, June 2009, page 12
- International aviation emissions from Annex 1 developed countries grew by 65.8% from 1990 to 2005.
—UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's National greenhouse gas inventory data for the period 1990–2005, October 2007, page 13
- In Wikipedia's List of countries by 2007 emissions, only China, the US, India, Russia, and Japan individually generated over 3% of total global CO2 emissions; aviation generated more CO2 than every other country on the planet. Giving a free pass to aviation CO2 would be like giving a free to all British CO2. This is a global problem, and we need everyone to pull together.
We need to cut emissions in every part of the economy, including aviation
- "Delegates at the Summit recognised
the important work that all industry sectors and governments must
undertake in the lead up to the UNFCCC climate change negotiations in
Copenhagen in December 2009. The aviation industry has been working at
an unprecedented pace to reduce its emission. Delegates urged
policy-makers to support these efforts by developing and adopting a
global sectoral approach to aviation emissions at Copenhagen."
—Aviation industry's internal Summit Communiqué from 4th Aviation and Environment Summit
Scientists say we need to cut emissions by 80-90% by 2050
- Gar Lipow blogged about some of the back and forth around the 80% and 90% figures.
Aviation industry plans to cut only 50% by 2050 (experts doubt if any cuts will occur)
- In June 2009, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the global aviation industry would halt CO2
emissions (i.e. 0% cuts) by 2020, and would hit 50% reduction by 2050.
It's nice that the industry is planning any cuts at all, but the planned
cuts are tiny relative to what scientists and governments are
—"Carbon-Neutral Growth by 2020", June 2009
- Adam Vaughn at the Guardian is
concerned that the aviation industry's June 2009 statement didn't rule
out the option of "lowering" emissions by buying offsets, instead of
actually lowering emissions.
—"How green are the airline industry's environmental promises?", June 2009
- "[E]ven the most ambitious scenario suggests that CO2
production will increase by almost 100% from the base year...The
analysis suggests that aviation emissions will continue to grow as a
result of continued demand for civil aviation."
—"IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group III Report 'Mitigation of Climate Change'", 2007, page 364
Better technology probably won't lead to enough efficiency
- "Although some airlines may adopt
technologies to reduce their future emissions, these efforts may not be
enough to mitigate the expected growth in air traffic and related
increase in overall emissions through 2050....One expert we met with did
a rough estimate of future emissions from aircraft assuming the
adoption of many low-carbon technologies such as blended wing-body,
operational improvements, and biofuels. He used IPCC's midrange forecast
of emissions to 2050 as a baseline for future traffic and found that
even assuming the introduction of these technologies, global emissions
in 2050 would continue to exceed 2000 emissions levels. Had a lower
baseline of emissions been used, forecasted emissions may have been
lower. Another study by a German research organization modeled future
emissions assuming the adoption of technological improvements, as well
as biofuels, to reduce emissions. This study assumed future traffic
growth averaging 4.8 percent between 2006 and 2026 and 2.6 percent
between 2027 and 2050. While this study forecasted improvements in
emissions relative to expected market growth, it estimated that by 2050
total emissions would still remain greater than 2000 emissions levels."
—United States Government Accountability Office, Aviation and Climate Change report, June 2009, page 34
Aviation as we know it is fundamentally unsustainable.
- Aviation's impacts are already too high.
And they're growing. It's unlikely
we'll find a technology solution that can
reduce emissions 80-90%,
and magically find a way to roll
out it across almost the entire
fleet of planes worldwide. This is simple
math and logic.
We need to fly less. (Yes, this will be hard)
- George Monbiot's arguments around aviation and "love miles" are devastating and hopeful. Read a good description of Monbiot's argument, or an excerpt from his book Heat, where he makes his case.
- This is a difficult personal and
social issue to grapple with. Ait travel, particularly international air
travel, can be vital to our identity, as travelers, world citizens, and
immigrants. But if we want a planet to call home, we need to work
through some of the difficult, sticky, conclusions.
We deserve better science-based transportation policy.
- Even the aviation industry's own website explicitly recommends taking trains, where they're a greener option (which is pretty often). Use tools like Trip Footprint to see what's greenest.
- Travelers deserve to know (and pay)
the true environmental cost of their travel. Movements around carbon
pollution taxes and green data can be part of the solution.
- Whether you're pushing for alternatives with Transportation for America, or challenging aviation industry PR like Plane Stupid, there's no time like the present for taking on transportation and climate change in your community.