Michael McCarthy: Global warming increases with the rise of aviation

Opinion: Global commercial aviation CO2 was 707 million tonnes in 2013, but in 2019 it reached 920 million tonnes, a 30% increase in just six years


Those stirring the pot for another Olympics in Vancouver seem to have learned no lessons from COVID-19. Putting most of the eggs in the same basket does not always result in a feast. Tourism suffered a devastating decline in recent years due to pandemic travel restrictions.

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In the future, a massive reduction in leisure aviation travel will be necessary to reduce global warming. Tour operators and governments alike should familiarize themselves with the sobering facts. A Analysis of Prime Minister Trudeau’s travel schedule shows that it accumulated 26,238 kilometers in the air in July alone. Trudeau had covered 127,147 km in the previous 10 months, the equivalent of three times around the world.

According to Carbon Independent.orgthe total remaining carbon budget of the planet is 400 billion tons of CO2, as defined in the Paris Agreement. This translates to only 50 tons of CO2 per person as a lifetime limit. In high-emitting countries, this “personal carbon budget” will run out shortly, perhaps as early as 2024 for the UK. So unlimited pleasure flights will no longer be possible until alternative and sustainable (ie electric) aviation is developed, if possible.

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Currently, UK-based budget airline Ryanair is responding to pent-up demand by charging as little as $20 to fly from London to Milan. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many cities like Venice and Barcelona were forced to put restrictions in place due to the recent phenomenon of “overtourism”, hundreds of thousands of travelers taking advantage of cheap airfares.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the average “profit per passenger” of the seven largest US airlines was just $17.75 in 2017, and the average profit margin was just nine percent. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that commercial airliners and large business jets now contribute 10 percent of U.S. transportation emissions and account for three percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas production. Globally, aviation produces 2.4 percent of total CO2 emissions.

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According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, globally CO2 from commercial aviation it was 707 million tons in 2013, but in 2019 it reached 920 million tons, an increase of 30 percent in just six years. The United States, with the largest commercial air traffic system in the world, accounted for 202.5 million tons in 2018.

On average, a commercial jet aircraft produces 53 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile. There are about 25,000 passenger aircraft in service around the world. according to cirium, an aviation data provider. At any given time, there are at least 5,000 commercial aircraft in the sky; right over the US. A Boeing 747 burns approximately 10 to 11 tons of fuel per hour. This CO2 is emitted into the high atmosphere and creates a greenhouse effect greater than the CO2 released at sea level. A new study published in the journal Chemistry and Atmospheric Physics suggests that global warming will triple by 2050 as air travel increases in popularity.

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The private aviation sector is on the rise worldwide, including a 153% increase in private jet travel in the Middle East and 76% in North America. As of October 2021, the average number of global business jet flights was up to 11,500 per day. There were 21,979 private jets in 2019 around the world. Due to the high demand for private jet travel by wealthy businessmen, this number is expected to rise steadily. The US is currently the largest market for private jets in the world, with 1,717 private jets in total, Canada ranks fourth with 534.

According to the European NGO Transport and Environment, private jets are between five and fourteen times more polluting than commercial aircraft per passenger, and 50 times more polluting than high-speed trains, emitting two tons of CO2 in a single hour. The price of a new private jet ranges from $3 million for a small seven-passenger Cirrus Vision to $660 million for a large private plane.

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According to Forbes magazine Private aviation sales soar. At the European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in May in Geneva, the CEO of Wheels Up Experience told the audience that he has seen a transformation from private aviation as a luxury to “an essential part of the lifestyle” for his 12,000 members. Evidently, monkeypox is already prompting calls from potential new customers who want to avoid crowded airports and commercial planes. Conference attendees also lamented airlines canceling flights due to staffing shortages caused by COVID.

The global COVID pandemic temporarily reduced the number of planes in the sky, but the statistics related to the increased use of aviation and subsequent global pollution need to be fully understood. The planet simply cannot absorb any increase in aviation pollution in the murky sludge that is our atmosphere. As the old saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth.

Michael McCarthy is a travel writer and regular contributor to Postmedia publications.

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