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  FINAL REPORT: Future Environmental Constraints on Aviation Emissions  

The Final Report on the Future Environmental Constraints on Aviation prepared as Work Package 4.2 of the CARING project has now been completed.

A soft copy of the full report is available on request from Icon-Reports@icon-consulting.com

Abstract: This study considers how measures to control aviation’s gaseous emissions may evolve by 2025. It considers measures addressing both climate change and local air quality. These include standards, market-based and operational measures, as well as the potential contribution of alternative fuels. At the same time the aviation industry is seeking to reconcile forecast growth with the increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the wider context these developments are taking place whilst there is considerable uncertainty about what will happen beyond the Kyoto Protocol.

The report explores the bounds of the situation through the use of four scenarios based on two key dimensions: the commitment and determination of Administration's to mitigate the impact of aviation emissions and the feasibility of the individual actions. Based on the extensive discussions held for this work, a "most likely" scenario is also postulated.

International Action on Greenhouse Gases

  • A global aviation based scheme of Market Based Measures (MBMs) looks unlikely by 2025.
  • Instead there will be further high level goals for aviation to cut emissions MBMs will go forward where States are willing to act, either individually or in concert. The EU ETS is the most advanced in preparation and is geographically wide ranging.
  • The global effectiveness of MBMs may well depend on having mature and transparent carbon markets that enable individual MBM schemes to grant reciprocal rights to each other.

Manufacturers' Current Plans

  • Aircraft manufacturers are expected to introduce product upgrades within the timeframe and that will have an effect on the operating efficiency of future fleets.
  • More radical new technology in engines and airframes may be unlikely to appear until the end of the period.
  • Overall, capacity growth is expected to far outstrip performance improvement and the purchase of new aircraft and engines is seen as one of the less cost effective ways to achieve the levels of carbon efficiency required.

Traffic and Fleet Growth

  • The predictions for traffic indicate a growth of total passenger traffic from 4.7 to 11.7 trillion RPKs from 2009 to 2028.
  • Aircraft predictions indicate that at least 4,400 to 6,600 of the current fleet will survive to 2028 and that there will be some 28-29,000 new deliveries, large proportions of which will be to accommodate projected traffic growth.
  • In this context the EU will review scheme parameters for its ETS in the period 2014 to 2021, including the level of the cap and the emission reduction target where change from 20% to 30% has already been suggested.

Alternative Fuels

  • The use of "drop-in" alternative fuels is a key part of the overall strategy and an essential element in reducing the cost of ETS.
  • There is a huge economic incentive to produce alternative fuels that are ring fenced for aviation.
  • IATA has indicated a target of 10% biofuel by 2017 but there is no indication about how far levels above 10% can be pushed in the timeframe of CARING.

Climate Change Science

  • The contribution of aviation's small proportion of CO2 is clearly established.
  • There are greater uncertainties about the impact of other aircraft emissions particularly NOx and water vapour at altitude which are unlikely to be resolved so that mitigating measures can be implemented within the timeframe.
  • Any decision to include additional GHGs, such as NOx, within ETSs in advance of the science is likely to be a political action and will probably be justified on the basis of the precautionary principle.

Local Air Quality:

  • Pressure for further measures to control local air quality will be determined largely by the extent to which the benefits of cleaner, newer aircraft are outweighed by traffic growth at individual airports.
  • Airlines' choices of equipment are more likely to be driven by market-based measures such as the EU ETS.
  • This may mean there is greater unity of purpose between airlines and airports over policies to reduce taxiing under own power, or refining landing charges to reduce APU usage.

Market Based Measures:

  • Unless legal challenges prove successful, the EC will extend its ETS to aviation from 2012.
  • Responses from States outside the EU, individually or in regional partnerships are likely to be varied and piecemeal. Some may, over time, establish their own MBMs seeking reciprocal arrangements, so that the EU scheme deals only with flights from the EU and the third parties cover flights to the EU. Others may take more limited action to recover costs.
  • Participation and or reciprocal rights are likely to build up gradually with particular clusters having major traffic to and from the EU. It is probable that regional action will also give rise to more significant shifts in traffic patterns as global airlines (and passengers) look to make economically efficient decisions.
  • A further issue is whether taxes (such as Air Passenger Duty in the UK and the new German passenger tax) will be withdrawn on the advent of the EU ETS.

We are indebted to all those who patiently have discussed with us the challenges of aviation and the environment and have given freely of their time. A report that attempts to give a view of the future can only be based on the evidence available at present and the informed views of those who will be a part of shaping the future. Evidence of the present is documented and readers may form their own conclusions as to its completeness and accuracy. We have endeavoured to provide an unbiased interpretation of the views of the future that have been expressed to us. The resulting scenarios do not necessarily represent the views of any one of our contributors.

A soft copy of the full report is available on request from Icon-Reports@icon-consulting.com


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