Emissions targets set by the aviation industry are unlikely to meet the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, according to a new study.
Published this week in the journal Nature Communications, the study noted that while programs such as Flightpath 2050 and ICAO’s carbon offsetting CORSIA scheme are aimed toward meeting the carbon emissions “target set to support the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree C goal between 2025 and 2064,” the aviation-induced global warming effect will likely increase due to non-CO2 emission effects such as the formation of nitrogen oxides, ozone, and contrail cirrus clouds, all of which also contribute to climate change.
“Technological improvements to engines and airframes and operations won’t be enough to sufficiently reduce the impact of aviation on climate change,” said Dr. Simon Blakey, study co-author and senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at the UK’s University of Birmingham. He added that the use of additional measures such as the adoption of cleaner-burning sustainable aviation fuel are crucial to the industry’s goals.
“Accounting for sustainable fuels must include the impact of non-CO2 emissions in use as well as the CO emissions in fuel production," he continued. “If we base all our calculations on CO2 alone, we miss the large improvements on non-CO2 emissions that these fuels can offer, particularly in reducing particulate matter emissions that contribute to an increased warming effect at cruise conditions.”