Southampton University study shows air traffic growth would outpace CO2 reduction efforts unless demand is cut by higher air fares
Air traffic growth set to outpace carbon reduction efforts
8 August 2014 (University of Southampton. Engineering and the Environment)
Ticket prices must rise by at least 1.4 per cent a year for emission levels to fall. Study calls for international agreement enforced by a global regulator
Even if proposed mitigation measures are agreed upon and put into place, air traffic growth-rates are likely to out-pace emission reductions, unless demand is substantially reduced.
“There is little doubt that increasing demand for air travel will continue for the foreseeable future,” says co-author and travel expert Professor John Preston. “As a result, civil aviation is going to become an increasingly significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.”
The authors of the new study, which has been published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, have calculated that the ticket price increase necessary to drive down demand would value CO2 emissions at up to one hundred times the amount of current valuations.
“This would translate to a yearly 1.4 per cent increase on ticket prices, breaking the trend of increasing lower airfares,” says co-author and researcher Matt Grote. “The price of domestic tickets has dropped by 1.3 per cent a year between 1979 and 2012, and international fares have fallen by 0.5 per cent per annum between 1990 and 2012.”
However, the research suggests any move to suppress demand would be resisted by the airline industry and national governments. The researchers say a global regulator ‘with teeth’ is urgently needed to enforce CO2 emission reduction measures.
“Some mitigation measures can be left to the aviation sector to resolve,” says Head of the Centre for Environmental Science at the University of Southampton Professor Ian Williams. “For example, the industry will continue to seek improvements to fuel efficiency as this will reduce costs. However, other essential measures, such as securing international agreements, setting action plans, regulations and carbon standards will require political leadership at a global level.”
The literature review conducted by the researchers suggests that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) ‘lacks the legal authority to force compliance and therefore is heavily reliant on voluntary cooperation and piecemeal agreements’.
Current targets, set at the most recent ICAO Assembly Session last October, include a global average fuel-efficiency improvement of two per cent a year (up to 2050) and keeping global net CO2 emissions for international aviation at the same level from 2020. Global market based measures (MBM) have yet to be agreed upon, while Boeing predicts the number of aircraft in service to double between the years 2011 and 2031.
Notes for editors
- The paper Direct carbon dioxide emissions from civil aircraft was published in Atmospheric Environment. The full paper is available upon request from the media relations team. Abstract
- For interview opportunities with Professor Ian Williams or Matt Grote please contact Steven Williams Tel: 023 8059 2128, email:S.Williams@soton.ac.uk
- Through world-leading research and enterprise activities, the University of Southampton connects with businesses to create real-world solutions to global issues. Through its educational offering, it works with partners around the world to offer relevant, flexible education, which trains students for jobs not even thought of. This connectivity is what sets Southampton apart from the rest; we make connections and change the world. http://www.southampton.ac.uk/
Is this the end of cheap air travel? Airlines may need to increase fares to reduce passenger numbers and hit ‘carbon neutral’ targets
- Airlines pledge to cut emissions – but passenger numbers keep rising
- To help hit their carbon neutral targets they need to reduce numbers
- Prices need to rise to reduce those numbers, experts warn
- Study predicts fares to rise by a third to reduce carbon footprint
Airfares will need to increase by a third over the next 30 years if airlines are to hit their ‘carbon neutral’ targets, experts predict.
A study reveals the air industry will have to hike fares in a bid to stop passengers travelling as the numbers of commuters keep going up.
Ticket prices need to increase by at least 1.4 per cent a year, according to experts, even if the airlines invest in more efficient aircraft and introduce lower-carbon fuels.
The research by the University of Southampton reveals that the reduction in the cost of air travel needs to be reversed to discourage passengers from travelling.
Fares have become 1.3% cheaper a year on average since 1979.
The report predicts the growth in demand for flights will outpace fuel efficiency improvements and airlines will be forced to deter passengers from travelling by increasing prices.
It says the annual rise in passenger numbers of 4.8 per cent will need to be halved to 2.4 per cent if the emission cap is to be met by 2020.
HOW FARES MAY RISE IN 30 YEARS
To offset carbon emissions, experts warn, airfares are set to rise by a third in the next 30 years.
In 2013 the average fare paid by British passengers was £170.
Experts say in 10 years this will have increased to £195.
This will jump to £225 in 2033 and will have increase by a third to £258 by 2043.
This is what IATA says:
- 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 [Note : NET] CO2 emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005 Link ]
Professor John Preston, Head of the Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering and Science Unit at the University of Southampton, told the Times: ‘There is little doubt that increasing demand for air travel will continue for the foreseeable future.
‘As a result, civil aviation is going to become an increasingly significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.’
The study suggested the ICAO is ‘too weak’ to fulfill its climate pledges because it ‘lacks the legal authority to force compliance’.
The study concludes: ‘The benefits of an extensive, well-connected aviation network are difficult to dispute..However, it is clear that from an environmental perspective there is an urgent requirement for a global regulator with ‘teeth’ to be established.’
Matt Grote, one of the report’s authors, said airlines had given themselves the option of ‘offsetting’ by paying other industries to reduce their emissions.
However, he said there were ‘no guarantees’ this would work in reducing emissions.
By 2020, global international aviation emissions are projected to be around 70 per cent higher than in 2005 even if fuel efficiency improves by 2 per cent per year.
ICAO forecasts that by 2050 emissions could grow by up to 700 per cent.
The ICAO is designing a global scheme to regulate airline emissions which is set to be implemented in 2020.
The European Union started charging all airlines that use EU airports for all of their emissions in 2012 but suspended the initiative to enable the ICAO to develop a worldwide system.
Globally airlines use five million barrels of oil a day and create 2.5 per cent of man-made emissions.
The planes’ emissions of soot, nitrogen oxides and sulphates are up to four times more than their CO2 emissions alone.
Someone flying from London to New York and back creates the same level of emissions as an average person heating their home in the EU for a year.