The article has some interesting points about aviation emissions. Specifically, some points that challenge the accepted 'wisdom' that aviation emissions per passenger are similar to a car's emissions over a similar distance.
Aviation emissions are 3% of US GHG emissions. (but increasing rapidly)
Today's aircraft are 70% more efficient than those of only 40 years ago.
High altitude emissions disproportionately damage the environment.
Stats used to claim parity with car emissions assume 100% full airplane versus 1 car with 1 occupant. (unlikely that a car has only 1 occupant over long distances. e.g vacation, also load factors of 100% are unrealistic)
CE Delft Study claims air travel least fuel efficient among cars, buses, trains, even on trips over 1500km.
The gist of the article hints that these environmental costs are leading to political events to reduce them, especially on short-haul flights. The mechanisms to do so are not fully articulated, but the article points out that jet engine efficiency is improving at 1% per year, and that an alternative to energy-dense kerosene is unlikely.
I think this points to uncertain horizons in terms of the business environment for LCCs who would be the obvious victim of regulations designed to reduce short-haul flights. Another issue that comes to mind is that as this understanding seeps through into the public discourse, there is a possibility that increasing numbers of individuals may reconsider their vacation plans in terms of their environmental ramifications. For example, the significant contribution of GHG made by flying may make the the idea of taking a flight to enjoy wild nature far less appealing. (Note, the article states that only 1 in 4 passengers is travelling on business)
I'm interested to hear what others think about this issue and the future of more environmentally sensitive aviation technologies.
TedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (9 years 4 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2231 times:
I'd like to see the mythbusters take on the biodeisel test like they did with the Mercedes and see if a GE-90 will run on used Fryer Grease. I thought the smell of JP-8 in the morning was good, could you imagine if jets ran on Mc Donald's left overs? People would be flying JUST for the smell!!
VV701 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 8298 posts, RR: 24
Reply 2, posted (9 years 4 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2214 times:
Quoting TPEcanuck (Thread starter): For example, the significant contribution of GHG made by flying may make the the idea of taking a flight to enjoy wild nature far less appealing.
But if all those flying primarilly to enjoy 'nature' (by which I assume you mean primarilly bird and animal life and not sandy, sunny beaches which are also created by nature) all stopped flying tomorrow would any of the airlines notice the difference? I mean there are no scheduled air services to the Galapagos Islands or Antartic and I am not sure that I would classify most of those flying through the Grand Canyon as environmentally concerned individuals. They are more likely to decide to take the trek on foot or on a donkey down to the River Colorado and then back up again rather than join the 'been there, seen it, done it' brigade. (And I do not mean this in a derogatory way as I guess that truthfully I would have to classify myself in that group.)
TPEcanuck From Taiwan, joined Oct 2005, 89 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (9 years 4 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 2135 times:
Quoting VV701 (Reply 2): But if all those flying primarilly to enjoy 'nature
I guess I phrased it a bit vaguely. What I intended to say is that if the 1 in 4 passengers are on business (which for arguments sake lets accept as 'necessary' travel..though those of us who travel on business frequently know it's not always necessary...) that leaves 3 out of 4 passengers on a plane travelling for leisure, which by definition, is discretionary travel, and hence discretionary GHG emissions. So, what I was trying to get at is that many of us travel to enjoy a different place, for its culture, for its natural beauty, or, as you say, to be there, done that. At this point, I think few in the general public are aware of the impact air travel has on the environment. If this becomes widely accepted, it could create a certain social taboo around discretionary air travel.
Now, of course that does not mean people will stop discretionary travel. But, look at the US these days...higher oil prices and a growing recognition of the economic/polictical/environmental ramifications of fossil fuel dependence has created a clear shift to more efficient alternatives. What I'm suggesting is that this may happen in aviation...some demand is lost due to some people making decisions about aviation based on the environmental impact or potentially associated taboo.
THUS, (to finally make my point!) I believe its encumbent on aviation to recognize this as a legitimate challenge, and more vigourously pursue alternatives. (And yes, I recognize 1% annual increase efficiency is better than other fossil fuel engines, and yes, I know, it's 3% of the emissions) But, I think if the manufactures and airlines get ahead of this problem, take stronger steps to mitigate it, they may avoid more restrictive legislation in the future which would also be unlikely to achieve the same progress in emissions reductions as good old ingenuity might!
VV701 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 8298 posts, RR: 24
Reply 4, posted (9 years 4 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2110 times:
Quoting TPEcanuck (Reply 3): THUS, (to finally make my point!) I believe its encumbent on aviation to recognize this as a legitimate challenge, and more vigourously pursue alternatives.
I think that the high oil price is forcing all airlines to do this. Some are doing more. For example last year BA introduced a voluntary Carbon Emission Offset scheme for its passengers. Basically this allows a passenger to pay the cost of carbon emissions created by his or her travel to the airline who then passes the payment to an organization called Climate Care. Climate Care is a non-commercial organisation that invests its income in sustainable energy projects.