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Reducing aviation’s emissions across the globe

Aviation emits approximately 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, but accounts for nearly 5% of the global warming caused by human activity because of the sector’s additional climate impacts from contrails and NOx emissions (often referred to as non-CO2 impacts). Globally, passenger numbers are projected to double in the next 20 years.

As far back as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, states have been pusuing the limitation and reduction of emissions from international aviation working through the UN body ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation). While some states now include international aviation emissions in their own domestic legislation or targets (the UK for example, will include international aviation emissions in its Sixth Carbon Budget under the Climate Change Act), ICAO continues to provide a global forum. AEF has been participating in ICAO’s environmental work since 1998 as a representative of the international NGO coalition ICSA.

ICAO has agreed a long-term aspirational goal for CO2 emissions from international aviation to be net zero by 2050, but governments need to act quickly to set the industry on the right trajectory.

Passenger numbers are projected to double in the next 20 years

What do we want to see?

  • ICAO should set interim milestones to ensure the emissions reduction trajectory for its long-term climate goal is in line with the Paris Agreement, as well as a 1.5 degree temperature goal.
  • Governments should recognise aviation’s non-CO2 climate impacts in climate targets, and should implement effective mitigation measures.
  • ICAO should set stretching aircraft and engine manufacturing standards for CO2, NOx, PM and noise, while ensuring that any new generation of supersonic aircraft (those that fly faster than the speed of sound) meets standards that are at least as stringent as those currently in place for the current (subsonic) aircraft fleet.