Aircraft emissions represent IPCC’s worst case scenario

May 14, 2008

A study that has not been published but was offered to a seminar last year says airlines are emitting enough carbon dioxide to confirm the worst scenario about global warming.

The study, ‘Trends in Global Noise and Emissions from Commercial Aviation 2000-2025’, says CO2 emissions from aviation will rise from its current level of 670 million tonnes to 1.48 billion tonnes by 2025. If the 1.48bt figure for CO2 is reached, it will represent the worst case scenario outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As well as CO2 data, the report also highlights growing problems of nitrogen oxides and noise from aircraft. NOx from planes is expected to rise from 2.5mt in 2000 to 6.1mt in 2025, and the number of people ‘seriously affected’ by aircraft noise will rise from 24m in 2000 to 30.3m by 2025. The authors do not deny there will be cleaner and quieter aircraft, but the expected increase in air traffic will more than wipe out the gains.

It is not clear why the report has not been published. It was offered to last year’s USA/Europe Air Traffic Management seminar in Barcelona; it never formed part of the formal proceedings but was listed on the seminar’s website.

It was prepared by four government-funded research bodies, including Eurocontrol and the US Department of Transportation. Its aim was to bring together the various modelling mechanisms for working out aviation’s long-term impact, and in many ways it merely confirms existing figures, albeit very much on the more pessimistic end of the scale.
It was revealed by the Aviation Environment Federation, a British NGO and T&E member.

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