Aviation emissions in Europe continue to rise rapidly, says Commission, as Ryanair pledges monthly CO2 statistics
Mon 10 June 2019 – While emissions from stationary installations, such as power and manufacturing plants, covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) fell by 4.1% overall in 2018, emissions from the aviation sector rose by 3.9%, according to confirmed figures released by the European Commission. The scheme covers over 11,000 stationary installations and 500 aircraft operators flying between European airports. The biggest reduction was achieved in the power sector where coal and gas-fired production is being replaced by electricity from renewables. In contrast, says the Commission, aviation emissions continue to increase rapidly and verified emissions from operators amounted to 66.9 million tonnes of CO2e in 2018. Meanwhile, Ryanair, which entered the top 10 of Europe’s biggest emitters for the first time last year, has become the first airline in the EU to release monthly statistics relating to its CO2 emissions.
The Commission said 500 commercial aircraft operators reported their emissions under the EU ETS in 2018, including more than 100 based outside the EU that operate flights within the European Economic Area (EEA). Total verified emissions of 66.9 Mt of CO2e compares with 64.4 Mt in 2017.
Around 53% of the emissions were covered by allowances acquired from other industrial sectors, mainly contributing to reductions in the power sector. Aircraft operators received free allowances totalling 30.5 million tonnes, covering 45.5% of their emissions, with the remaining 1.5% being covered by international credits. The Commission said the number of non-compliant aircraft operators was “typically small” or who had ceased trading during the year. The price of EU carbon allowances (EUAs) rose sharply from around €8/tonne at the beginning of 2018 to nearly €25 by the end of the year.
Ryanair, described by Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs as Europe’s greenest and cleanest airline, said its emissions amounted to 1,157,000 tonnes for the month of May, having carried 14.1 million passengers, which was an increase of 13% compared to the same period last year. The airline’s total emissions for 2018 were 9.9 Mt, a 6.9% rise on the previous year.
Ryanair said that a passenger load factor of 96% and one of the youngest fleets (average of six years) helped it achieve 66 grams of CO2 per passenger/km in May, and an average over the year of 67g of CO2 per pax/km. This, it claims, is substantially lower than its EU competitors and the reduction from 82g to 67g (-18%) over the past decade compares with over 120g by major flag carriers such as Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France-KLM.
The metric is the most transparent and accurate way of measuring airline carbon efficiency, said Ryanair, and called on all other EU airlines to follow its example of publishing monthly emissions statistics.
The low-cost carrier is targeting to reach below 60g per pax/km by 2030 as a result of a $20 billion investment in a fleet of 210 new Boeing 737 “gamechanger” aircraft that are expected to be delivered between 2019 and 2024, which will carry 4% more passengers but with a 16% lower fuel burn and 40% lower noise emissions.