A 2017 report estimated that air travel accounted for 2% of all carbon dioxide emissions[1], with the total emissions expected to quadruple by 2050.  ICAO have set the goal of 2% annual fuel efficiency improvements from 2020.

However, even if aviation does meet all its targets, aviation will eventually consume something like12% of the global carbon budget (variously calculated) by 2050.  If it fails to reach this target, its share of this budget could rise under some estimates to as much as 27%[2].  The sector has an aspirational goal to cap its emissions at 2020 levels, so that any growth after this year is achieved in a “carbon neutral” way.  This will not be easy.  Airlines estimate that air travel will grow by an average of just under 5% per year up to 2034 — and the emissions from this extra activity will be difficult to decarbonise.

[1] https://www.atag.org/facts-figures.html

[2] Carbon Budget

Sustainable biofuels are the only currently available and tested alternative for reducing the carbon footprint of aviation, although electric aircraft testing is being undertaken and will likely emerge for regional and short haul aviation initially.

In addition airports are commercial sites with significant greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. Novel concepts and solutions aimed for enhancing the capability of airports communities in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change are needed in meeting future policy targets. Specific solutions are needed based on a holistic perspective that integrates the airport physical and operational infrastructure with their users, business and logistics operators, peripheral businesses, and ultimately with the whole transportation system that uses and commutes to the airport, as well as the physical environment it is embedded in.

Northpoint has been working with partners and clients on a range of green reviews for both airports and transport bodies.  SAF has been reviewed by Northpoint in some depth and projects related more sustainable aviation are expected to proliferate in the coming years.  We have been involved in an ERDF and a H2020 intended project on the topic.

Northpoint has also been developing during summer 2019 a refined and up to date Carbon-Mode Analysis Model.  This model can more accurately compare rail, road and air transport and

  • Predict, with user inputted data, the carbon dioxide emitted of a journey between 2 locations using different modes of transport.
  • Calculate emission of the vehicle on one journey.
  • Compute and compare per passenger C0₂ emissions.

The model is still being refined but is particul;arly promising in the UK context for examining domestic aviation vis a vis other modes.