This article looks into aviation and carbon emissions. It follows on the back of last week’s article, which looked into carbon offsetting. The aviation industry is expected to be a major purchaser of carbon offsets so these two issues are closely interlinked.

Jp Valery

The selection of this theme is influenced by my personal life, as I am travelling to India soon, where I will be flying from London to Mumbai.

Looking into the carbon emissions associated with this outbound flight, for 1 economy seat, where the impact of radiative forcing is accounted for, this comes to 1.08 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (greenhouse gasses).

Where the impact of radiative forcing is not taken into account, this only reports a figure of 0.57 tonnes of greenhouse gasses. This is obviously dangerously misleading and why it is so important to account for radiative forcing when reporting on greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

The UK department for the environment defines radiative forcing as the influence of non-co2 climate change effects of aviation. This includes elements such as water vapour, contrails and NOX emissions.

I think it is important to put the impact of the emissions from that 1 flight in some context. The average carbon emissions per head of population in the UK comes to 9.1 tonnes per annum.

So just that 1 flight alone, would be responsible for 11.8% of a person’s carbon footprint. Which for something which lasts only a few hours is a sign of just how energy and carbon intensive this activity is.

This is why technological innovation that lowers the carbon emissions associated with flying is so important.

You are not going to connect London to Mumbai via high speed rail or passenger ship. The only realistic option is to fly. This makes sustainable aviation essential.

What you need to know

This article looked into carbon emissions and aviation.

We looked into the carbon emissions associated with 1 flight from London to Mumbai and the problems associated with not accounting for the impact of radiative forcing.

I don’t believe that aviation has committed some kind of original sin and I believe that technological breakthroughs will make a sustainable and connected future possible.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation sector?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby


Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka.

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