By 2050 global aviation emissions could surge by 700%

Someone flying from London to New York and back generates roughly the same level of emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year, according to the European Commission.

Currently, aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. As such, the EU is taking action to reduce aviation emissions in Europe by working with the international community to develop measures with global reach.

According to official European Commission data, direct emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions and more than 2% of global emissions.

The commission states that: “If global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.”

Last week, on episode nine of FarmLand, independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice raised concerns over how rural indigenous industries – particularly agriculture and the peat industry – are being impacted by efforts to meet Ireland’s carbon emission reduction and renewable energy targets.

Also Read: ‘No one’s talking about emissions from airplanes’

He argued that greater strides can be made in the transport sector – particularly in aviation – to reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint.

“If you want to talk about this whole carbon situation in Ireland, and indeed the world, no one is talking about the amount of emissions that planes are putting out.

Some of these people want to get rid of all the livestock in Ireland and to cut down on this, that and the other – but why aren’t we talking about emissions from planes?

“We should ground them if we need to. Don’t be going on your holidays if that’s the case, if we’re doing so much damage,” said deputy Fitzmaurice who represents the Galway-Roscommon constituency.

Under the EU’s Effort Sharing Decision targets, Ireland has agreed to deliver a 20% reduction in non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions, on 2005 levels, by 2020.

Non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions (non-Emissions Trading Scheme sector) include: agriculture; transport; residential; commercial; waste; and the non-energy intensive industry.

Earlier this year, Ireland also committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions level by 30% on 2005 levels by 2030.

Under the EU Renewable Energy Directive (2009) Ireland is also committed to producing at least 16% of all energy consumed in the Republic from renewable sources by 2020.

300-700% emission increase

According to the European Commission, by 2020, global international aviation emissions are projected to be around 70% higher than in 2005 and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) forecasts that by 2050 they could grow by a further 300-700%.

Along with other sectors, aviation is contributing to emission reductions within the EU through the EU emissions trading system.

CO2 emissions from aviation have been included in the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) since 2012.

Under the EU ETS, all airlines operating in Europe, European and non-European alike, are required to monitor, report and verify their emissions, and to surrender allowances against those emissions.

They receive tradeable allowances covering a certain level of emissions from their flights per year.

The system has so far contributed to reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation sector by more than 17 million tonnes per year – with compliance covering over 99.5% of emissions.

In addition to market-based measures like the ETS, operational measures – such as modernising and improving air traffic management technologies, procedures and systems – also contribute to reducing aviation emissions.

In October 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed on a resolution for a global market-based measure to address CO2 emissions from international aviation as of 2021.

The agreed resolution sets out the objective and key design elements of the global scheme – as well as a road-map for the completion of the work on implementing modalities.

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA, aims to stabilise CO2 emissions at 2020 levels by requiring airlines to offset the growth of their emissions after 2020.

During the period 2021-2035, and based on expected participation, the scheme is estimated to offset around 80% of the emissions above 2020 levels.