Aviation industry faces mounting pressure to get serious about climate change. Air travel accounts for between three and five per cent of global CO2 emissions — and those emissions are on the rise. The number of flights around the world has increased substantially over the decades: In 1960, 100 million passengers travelled by air compared with four billion worldwide in 2017.
Airlines remain in survival mode as governments continue to restrict air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, with vaccine developments and deployment, those in the sector are hopeful there won’t be too much more turbulence before more planes and passengers are able to return to the sky.
Post-pandemic, one of the biggest headwinds facing the industry is finding a way to reduce the carbon emissions produced by flying thousands of jets every day. It’s not only an obstacle for the aviation sector but one of the biggest challenges for the world’s efforts to combat climate change.
There are sources of pollution that can be reduced through electrification, such as passenger vehicles, lawn mowers and many other products. But some sectors, such as manufacturing, still depend heavily on fossil fuels because they require an intense amount of energy.
The aviation sector not only needs an abundance of energy for takeoff but also in carrying a lot of weight while airborne.
“Everybody imagines aviation as one of the most difficult-to-decarbonize sectors,” Glenn Llewellyn, who is responsible for the zero-emission aircraft program at Airbus, said in an interview from Toulouse, France.
“If aviation can decarbonize and eliminate its climate impact, then there is no excuse for any industry,” he said.
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