Aviation CO2 on course to dominate world emissions

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Projections of aviation CO2 emissions growth to 2050 point to a situation which would see the sector account for about a fifth of total allowable worldwide emissions if global warming is to be held to less than 2e_SDgrC by 2100.

Professor David Lee of the Centre for Aviation, Transport and Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University, speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Society's Aviation and the Environment conference in London today (18 October), said that 2e_SDgrC demands a steady and sharp reduction in total global CO2 emissions from the middle of this decade, from about 48 billion tonnes yearly to around 20 billion tonnes in 2050. But, during that period, aviation's emissions are expected to quadruple to about 4 billion tonnes.

And, he said, research done by DLR in Germany points clearly to a significant global-warming effect from aircraft contrails and the cirrus clouds they induce.

Lee added that more work needs to be done to determine the impact of aircraft NOx emissions.