Global aviation anticipated to carry on expanding at 5% per year out to 2032 … and beyond
The world’s addiction to flying shows no signs of slowing, despite increasing concerns over the industry’s impact on climate change. New data from the Worldwatch Institute shows the number of people taking flights in 2012 hit 2,957 million, a 4.7% increase on 2011. That’s triple the number of people flying in 1986. Boeing predicts world passenger numbers and air cargo traffic will rise 5% annually until 2032. The“insatiable” desire for air travel is bad news for climate change, as growth in the sector is faster than fuel efficiency improvements – giving a large net increase in CO2 emissions each year. In 2012, aviation produced 689 million tonnes of CO2, or around 2% of the global total. A 2009 paper in the Atmospheric Environment journal calculated air travel was responsible for 4.9% of man-made climate change. As their affluence increases,people travel more and more. International flights are responsible for the majority of air miles travelled. In 2012, while only 39% of passengers were on international flights, they accounted for 62% of the overall distance travelled. The world’s aircraft fleet is expected to grow to 36,500 carriers by 2032, says Airbus, or to more than 41,000, says rival Boeing.
Aviation industry set to expand 5% per year
2 January 2014 (RTCC)
“Insatiable” desire for travel bad news for climate change, as aviation sector grows faster than fuel efficiency improvements
Souce: Flickr / Vyacheslav Bondaruk
By Sophie Yeo
The world’s addiction to flying shows no signs of slowing, despite increasing concerns over the industry’s impact on climate change.
New data from the Worldwatch Institute reveals that the number of people taking flights in 2012 hit 2,957 million, a 4.7% increase on 2011.
That’s over nine times the population of the USA, and triple the number of people flying in 1986. Leading plane manufacturer Boeing predicts world passenger numbers and air cargo traffic will rise 5% annually until 2032.
In 2012, aviation produced 689 million tonnes of CO2, or around 2% of the global total. A 2009 paper in the Atmospheric Environment journal calculated was responsible for 4.9% of manmade climate change. ( link )
“The desire for travel is insatiable. We love to see foreign countries and if we can afford to do it we will,” Guy Turner, chief economist at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told RTCC.
“Air technology is improving so they’re getting quieter, more efficient, which is allowing people to travel more and more as their wealth increases.”
International flights are responsible for the majority of air miles travelled. In 2012, while only 39% of passengers were on board international flights, they accounted for 62% of the overall distance travelled because of the greater number of kilometres clocked up by each flight.
Air travel punches above its weight as far as environmental impact is concerned, since emitting CO2 high up in the atmosphere has a greater greenhouse impact than on the ground, yet policy attempts to control the industry are as slow as they are acrimonious.
Last year, attempts to regulate the industry through a carbon trading or offsetting scheme fell through at the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) meeting in Montreal, and will not be discussed again until 2016.
This is in spite of warnings from scientists that a market-based mechanism is the most effective way to regulate the emissions from the industry.
Meanwhile, the expansion in unlikely to stop any time soon, with the world’s commercial aeroplane fleet expected to explode to 36,500 carriers by 2032, according to forecasts by aircraft manufacturer Airbus, or to more than 41,000 according to their rival Boeing.
The UK is currently debating a controversial extra runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick airport, three years after previous plans were shelved.
According to ICAO, this fleet has already risen by 33% since 2003, up to a total of 25,252 aircraft. The US dominates this market, with a total 6,000 in service, followed by China, which has just fewer than 2,000. Most of these planes are used to carry passengers.
The growth of the industry has only ever stalled on two occasions: the September 11 attack in 2001 and just after the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008.
Efficiency not enough
The sector will continue to play a disproportionate role in the worsening climate crisis over coming years; Turner points out that improvements in the efficiency of airlines is not enough to combat the growth projected over the coming years
“Yes, aircraft are getting more efficient, but the increase in the demand for travel is growing faster than the improvements in efficiency of the aircraft. The net effect will be a gradual increase in emissions from aircraft,” he said.
“The only way the industry can achieve a stabilisation of emissions or even a reduction would be by offsetting emissions by paying for emission reductions elsewhere in the economy.”
Recent research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicated that the cost of the credits required to meet 50% of the aviation industry’s needs would cost less 0.5% of the industry’s total revenue.
But while economically achievable, co-author Turner added that offsetting enough emissions to achieve the aviation sector’s goal of carbon neutral growth by 2020 “is not trivial to implement”, and would require a gesture of political will from all the countries and airlines involved.
Air Transport Keeps Expanding
Michael Renner (Vital Signs – WorldWatch)
Dec 17, 2013
In 2012 the number of people traveling on airplanes reached 2,957 million, which was 4.7% more than the previous year.1 (See Figure 1.)
Although this figure includes a substantial number of people who travel multiple times during the year, it is equivalent to 42% of the world’s population.2
The number of passengers is up 95-fold from 31 million in 1950, when flying was a luxury few could afford, and it is triple the 960 million passengers in 1986, when air travel was already quite common.3
The average length of a flight doubled from 903 kilometers in 1950 to 1,816 kilometers in 2000, but it has not changed much since then and stood at 1,827 kilometers in 2012.4
Longer flights and expanding passenger numbers generated a strong expansion of total passenger kilometers (pkm) traveled— up 193-fold from the 28 billion pkm in 1950 to 5.4 trillion pkm in 2012.5 (See Figure 2.)
The only pauses in an otherwise inexorable expansion came in 2001–02 (following the September 11 attacks in the United States) and in 2008–09 (after the start of the world financial and economic crisis).6
Like passenger air travel, air freight transport has expanded strongly. In 2012, some 49.2 million tons of goods were transported by plane worldwide.7 Even though this is down 1% from 2011, it is 71% more than in 2001.8
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