Fri 19 Dec 2008 – Sustainable Aviation, the environmental strategy initiative formed by UK airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and ATM providers, has published its first report mapping the air transport industry’s CO2 emissions to 2050. It concludes that such emissions can return to 2000 levels by 2050, after having reached a peak around 2020, against a background of a threefold increase in passenger numbers forecasted by the UK’s Department of Transport assumptions.
The assessment takes into account a maturing of the UK air transport market alongside perceived efficiencies expected from new airframe and engine technology, ‘cutting edge’ air traffic management (ATM) and operations, as well as the development of sustainable fuels (see graph below). The authors state that no allowance has been made for the additional contribution to CO2 reductions that will be achieved through participation in international cap and trade emission schemes, such as the EU ETS, as the full details of their impact have yet to be fully defined, but they expect them to make an additional contribution.
The report highlights that:
· Improvements in current airframe and engine design plus new technologies such as blended wing bodies and open rotor engines are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 62% compared with a ‘constant technology’ baseline.
· A further 10% reduction is envisaged from improved air traffic management and operations that will be delivered by 2020.
· Lower carbon alternative fuels are expected to provide a further 10% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2030, following a period of increasing deployment from 2020.
“This report demonstrates how aviation in the UK can be sustainable environmentally as well as economically,” commented Ian Godden, Chief Executive of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, which coordinates the Sustainable Aviation initiative. “The UK aviation industry has come together to present innovative solutions that will ensure that this growth in aviation in future can be delivered without a long term rise is carbon dioxide emissions.”
Danny Bernstein, the initiative’s Chairman and also Chairman of Monarch Airlines, said: “Sustainable Aviation was the first alliance of its kind anywhere in the world when it was first established in 2005. Bringing together airlines, manufacturers, and air traffic management and airport operators, it has continued its groundbreaking work with this report. Flying contributes so much to the UK economy and quality of life through business, family and tourist travel. The industry has now demonstrated how it can deliver these benefits to the nation whilst also meeting the demand for lower-carbon solutions with which to do so.”
The UK Government recently set legally binding CO2 reduction targets for industry, which will take aviation emissions into account, as part of its climate change legislation (see story). It commits to reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The Sustainable Aviation forecast therefore falls well short of the overall target and this shortfall will have to be made up for by reductions from other industries.
According to the UK Government’s own statistics (see graph below), UK CO2 emissions from international and domestic aviation early doubled between 1990 and 2000, rising from approximately 17MtCO2 in 1990 to around 32MtC02 in 2000.
The climate change legislation’s CO2 targets also include shipping, and following the inclusion of aviation into the EU ETS, pressure is building up both in the UK and in Europe on this transport sector to tackle its carbon emissions and bring it into the EU ETS. Like aviation, international shipping was excluded from the Kyoto Protocol and its governing body, the International Maritime Organization, like civil aviation’s governing body ICAO, has also so far failed to reach a global binding agreement on CO2 reductions.
This week, however, the UK shipping industry called for the introduction of a global emissions trading scheme. Martin Warner, President of the UK Chamber of Shipping, said that such a scheme for the entire industry would prove more effective than national efforts to curb emissions, which would result in ships registering in countries or regions with more lax environmental standards.
He admitted that the idea did not have widespread industry support as yet. “An emissions trading scheme for the shipping industry remains a concept rather than a defined path, and many parts of the global industry are still to be convinced that this is the best course of action,” he said. “But I believe that if we can provide leadership and make a coherent and compelling case, then other national associations will follow.”
The move was welcomed by Peter Lockley, Head of Transport Policy at WWF-UK. “I’m very pleased that the UK shipping industry is advocating an emissions trading system for ships and I look forward to working with them to refine and build support for the proposal. If designed well, the scheme would put a price on maritime carbon emissions, speeding up the drive for cleaner ships and helping to pay for low-carbon development in poorer countries. It would position shipping as a progressive and responsible industry, and I very much hope that it will be part of a global climate change deal next year in Copenhagen.”
It is claimed that shipping emissions per tonne transported are 100 times lower than for aviation. However, the industry transports 80% of the world’s traded goods and accounts for around 3% of global CO2 emissions. Combined, aviation and shipping account for 7.6% of total UK CO2 emissions.
Sustainable Aviation’s projections to 2050
UK aviation emissions 1970-2005 (source: Defra emissions statistics)
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