GHG Emissions from aircraft: the sky’s the limit!

In 2017 Germany ranked as the 22nd largest emitter of GHG emissions. Its emissions as a per centage of worlds total emissions amounted to 1.7 %. As a party to the Paris Accord, Germany assumed a responsibility of reducing its emissions to achieve the targets in the Paris accord.

The emissions by each of the two International modes of transport (air and sea) are comparable to Germany’s. So what is being done to reduce emissions from these transport sectors – emissions that are not attributed to the domestic emissions of any state? So far the steps that have been taken have achieved little In the way of reduced emissions.

The International Air Transport Association (international airlines are members of IATA) and other organizations successfully lobbied the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding limits on carbon emissions. What was achieved? Emissions reductions – for new model aircraft – should only become operative as of 2028. Aircraft already in use or in course of manufacture could continue to operate until 2028 even though they exceeded these limits.

The justification for the delay is that advances in aircraft technology have increased efficiency and lessened fuel consumption, but for all practical purposes this strategy is close to the maximum that can be done with current designs. In the meantime, people are free to hop on a plane without considering or paying for the environmental costs:

As we said in our blog:

“Air transport emissions could triple by the middle of the century given the expected growth in air travel over the next decades.The global aviation industry will not do anything significant. Like the fossil fuel industry, it is not ready to go out of business.”

There are other ways to approach the problem of aeronautic emissions. 4RG has pointed out that international transport should pay for the cost of trade to the environment. Producers of goods for international trade will be subject to monetary penalties that relate to the emissions they create. Why not the international carriers?

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