The aviation industry is currently one of the fastest growing industries in the world however, along with its growth, its impact on the climate has been astronomical. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, pollution by air travel accounts for approximately 4-9% of climate change impact by humans.
Nonetheless, as world population increases, income levels rise and airlines reduce prices to be more competitive, there seems to be no end in sight for the adverse impact of greenhouse gas emissions by the aviation sector.
As the Foundation states, CO2 emissions from the aviation sector has increased by 83% since the 90’s and airline manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus need to realise the importance of sustainable transport for the future.
The hurdle is that it has always been cheaper for airline manufacturing companies to produce unsustainable airplanes and any change to this mentality will only be achieved by regulatory enforcement.
The image below shows the ‘climate impact per kilometre’ of different transportation methods, with air travel having the largest carbon footprint compared to road and rail travel.
What is being done about air travel emissions?
Unfortunately, very little!
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, certain countries are only required to consider emissions from domestic flights. Emissions from international flights are being given no consideration and there is no concrete plan in sight to sustainably regulate the sector further.
The EU, in recent years, has drafted a programme to address the threat posed by airline emissions however, there is no intent in sight to make this plan effective in the near future.
The road ahead
Despite the fact that automobile vehicles and trains have already introduced sustainability and are ahead in the ‘sustainability race’, air travel is still considered to be ‘the future of efficient travel’.
It is without a doubt that the aviation industry will continue to grow immensely in the years ahead and eventually develop a solution to tackle carbon emissions however, this change needs to be taken as soon as possible, to set an example of sustainable and efficient transport to all of humanity.
Written by Divesh Lachhwani
David Suzuki Foundation. (2016). Air travel and climate change. Available at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/climate-change-basics/air-travel-and-climate-change/
Ec.europa.eu. (2016). Passenger transport statistics – Statistics Explained. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Passenger_transport_statistics