2019 was an “annus horribilis” for the aviation sector, as Queen Elizabeth II would say. Two brand new Boeing 737 MAX crashed, killing 346 people. The air freight sector, although not
affected by serious accidents, experienced a severe slump in tonnage and sales. In addition, the aviation industry was confronted with growing criticism from broad sections of the population who
accused it of being one of the main culprits for climate change.
An allegation that sounds populist but cannot be completely dismissed.
Although the aviation sector accounts for just 2.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, less and less people are willing to accept this. The industry's well-known but somehow worn-out references
to technical innovations and the use of more energy-efficient engines have long since lost their power of persuasion. It is mainly low-cost airlines that are spoiling the records, by making
flying ever cheaper, tapping into new customer segments and thus predominantly torpedoing the industry's collective emissions balance.
Noble commitments, but how credible are they?
Fact is, the industry has committed itself to grow without producing more net emissions as of January 1, this year. By 2050, the aviation sector promises to have halved CO2 emissions compared to the reference year 2005.
Realistic goals? Very doubtful!
In view of the industry's rather passive attitude towards increasing global warming which will presumably lead to mounting protests, more and more countries will likely demand that kerosene taxes are paid by airlines, making flying significantly more expensive. A sword of Damocles - particularly for budget carriers.
Yet before governments impose taxes as a cudgel, digging deep into the airlines’ pockets, passengers as well as cargo players can themselves largely contribute to making CO2-neutral flying feasible: through compensation measures that neutralize CO2 emissions coupled with noticeable saving effects as illustrated in PART 2.
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