1% ‘super emitters’ responsible for over 50% of aviation emissions

(Transport and Environment, 3 Dec 2020) Just 1% of the world’s population accounts for more than half of the CO2 emissions from passenger air travel, according to a new study.

The lead researcher says flying is ‘an elite activity’ in which very rich participants are given a $100 billion subsidy through not paying for the 1 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions they cause.

Aviation has largely escaped climate change measures dating back to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, when individual countries were asked to approach the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for measures to address the climate impact of air transport. Since then, ICAO has ruled out almost all possible measures, and when the EU agreed a global emissions trading scheme for aviation to start in 2012, it was forced by global pressure to limit it to intra-EU flights only. The result has been that aviation climate emissions have continued to grow, while other sectors have reduced their climate impact.

This year’s 80% reduction in air traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic has allowed two academics – a tourism and human ecology professor Stefan Gössling from Stockholm and mathematics and finance professor Andreas Humpe from Munich – to examine the scale, distribution and growth of aviation up to the end of 2018. Their findings appear in an open access articlein the journal Global Environmental Change.

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Transport and Environment, 3 Dec 2020: 1% ‘super emitters’ responsible for over 50% of aviation emissions