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Fact Sheet: Climate Change

Industry Goals:

  • An average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% per year to 2020
  • A cap on net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020: carbon-neutral growth 
  • Cut net CO2 emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005

Air Transport’s Climate Change Track Record

  • Air transport accounts for 2% of global manmade CO2 emissions
    • Air transport’s relative contribution has not increased in the past 20 years and is not expected to increase beyond 3% by 2050  according to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Air transport has reduced its fuel use and CO2 emissions per passenger kilometer by well over 70% compared to the 1960s. 
  • Although in 2012 passenger kilometer performed increased by as much as 5.3% and tonne kilometers performed by 3.3%, total emissions increased only 1.4% to 689 million tonnes of CO2, compared to 679 million tonnes in 2011
  • Emissions growth of 1.4% in 2012 is the result of 
    • A 2.7% capacity increase (accounting for 18 million tonnes of CO2)
    • But was partially offset by an annual percentage efficiency improvement of 1.3% 

Carbon-Neutral Growth 2020 (CNG2020)

  • CNG2020 means that aviation’s net CO2 emissions will not increase beyond 2020 levels even as demand for air transport continues to grow
  • The industry is working hard to deliver CNG2020 (Four Pillar strategy), but it is also contingent upon action by other stakeholders, notably:
    • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) needs to adopt a CO2 emission standard for new aircraft types
    • Governments and fuel companies need to support and scale up the production of sustainable biofuels for aviation
    • Governments and air navigation service providers need to improve air traffic management, and live up to their commitments to deliver the Single European Sky in Europe and NextGen in the United States
    • At its Annual General Meeting in June 2013, IATA members adopted a resolution providing a set of principles on how governments could integrate a single global market-based measure as part of an overall package of measures to put a cap on net aviation emissions from 2020

Four Pillar Strategy to Address Climate Change

Technology

  • Short-term: enhancements and modifications to existing in-service fleet
  • Medium-term: accelerate fleet renewal, introduce latest technologies, including drop-in biofuels
  • Long-term: radical new technologies and aircraft designs
  • IATA Technology Roadmap identifies technologies that could reduce fuel burn per aircraft by up to 30% 

Operations

  • Improved operations can save fuel and CO2 emissions by up to 6% per year (IPCC)
  • IATA helps fuel conservation by compiling best practices, publishing guidance, visiting airlines and training 
  • IATA will extend fuel conservation programs and promote airline environmental management systems

Infrastructure

  • Governments and infrastructure providers could avoid up to 12% of CO2 emissions by addressing airport and airspace inefficiencies (IPCC)
    • Some 4% of this has already been achieved since 1999 (according to the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation - CANSO)
    • Single European Sky (SES), US NextGen Air Transport System and flexible use of airspace would contribute to these savings

Economic measures

  • To the extent that the industry’s climate change objectives may not be achieved through the first three pillars alone, a cost-effective single global market-based measure is needed to bridge the gap
  • Considering the international nature of aviation, a global approach to aviation emissions must be preferred over a patchwork of individual and uncoordinated policies:
    • A market-based measure should be cost-effective and administratively simple
    • Airlines should only be held accountable once for their emissions
    • A patchwork of measures may lead to the same emissions being covered by more than one mechanism. 
  • A global mechanism is needed to prevent market distortions and carbon leakage

At its 38th session, the ICAO Assembly decided to develop a global market-based measure for international aviation. It requested the ICAO Council to finalize the work on the technical aspects, environmental and economic impacts and modalities of the possible options for a global MBM scheme. The results of the work of the Council will be reported to the next Assembly in 2016 for approval.

Updated: December 2013

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