AIR TRAFFIC: CO2 EMISSIONS TO TRIPLE BY 2050

Gregory Dolgos - Oct 17, 2011
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Carbon emissions caused by air transport is increasing. A study stated that the amount of CO2 emissions is to triple by 2050.

According to a study "Sustainable Aviation" by Booz&Company the emissions caused by air transport are to triple by 2050. The findings of the study stand in stark contrast to the IATA (International Air Transport Association) targets set in 2009. The IATA aim is to reduce the emissions by half until 2050 compared to the aircraft emissions in 2005.

Currently, about 250 million tons of fuel is used per year for air traffic. This amount will according to the study double in the next 15 years at an average annual growth of 4.5%, reported TouristAustria.at. The largest boom is expected in Asia and Middle East, especially in India and China.  

Today, air traffic is responsible for only 2% of the global emissions. The calculations of IATA claim to increase the fuel efficiency by 1.5% until 2020. Booz & Company nevertheless considers this goal to be unachievable. A common aircraft is usually in operation for about 30-40 years. Thus the new and more efficient aircraft will not replace the old ones as quickly as necessary. 

Despite the technological progress the amount of CO2 is thus expected to increase considerably in the coming decades. According to Booz & Company the result will be the tripling of the world’s aircraft emissions by 2050.

Effective biofuels are considered to be one of the possible ways of solving this problem.

The use of biofuels in aircrafts is nevertheless currently at a very early stage of development. Lufthansa is for example conducting one of the first tests with biofuels. By 2020 the fuel should be blended with biofuel by 10%. Also other airlines have already made test flights with biofuel as for example Air New Zealand, Continental, KLM and Japan Airlines.

In autumn 2010 British Airways started cooperating with the Association of Sustainable Use of Renewable Fuels (SURF) to research the development of biofuels derived from algae. A test flight, testing biofuel from the jatropha plant took place in Mexico on the way from Mexico City to Tuxtla. Nevertheless, to achieve the industry targets by 2050 the aircrafts would need about 13.6 million barrels of second generation biofuels.

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