With the projected continuing significant growth in air traffic and the inadequacy of proposed aviation carbon emissions reductions, new research suggests that civil aviation will become an increasingly significant contributor to global warming unless demand is reduced — and good luck with proposing that. Reliance on the toothless UN International Civil Aviation Organization as a negotiating venue by the U.S. and other governments indicates an avoidance of this problem at the highest levels of ‘leadership’.

[See August 8 post: Pushing EPA to regulate aviation greenhouse gas emissions]

The new research, “Direct carbon dioxide emissions from civil aircraft“, was published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

From The Guardian (Air traffic growth rates will outpace emission reductions, research shows):

[The authors of the new study, which has been published in the journal Atmospheric Environment,] said that even if proposed mitigation measures were agreed upon and put into place, air traffic growth rates were likely to outpace emission reductions, unless demand was substantially reduced.

The research’s co-author Professor John Preston said: “There is little doubt that increasing demand for air travel will continue for the foreseeable future. …

The research suggested any move to suppress demand would be resisted by the airline industry and national governments. The researchers say a global regulator “with teeth” is urgently needed to enforce CO2 emission reduction measures.

“Some mitigation measures can be left to the aviation sector to resolve,” said Prof Ian William, the head of the Centre for Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

He went on: “For example, the industry will continue to seek improvements to fuel efficiency as this will reduce costs. However, other essential measures, such as securing international agreements, setting action plans, regulations and carbon standards will require political leadership at a global level.”

The research suggested that the UN body the International Civil Aviation Organisation “lacks the legal authority to force compliance and therefore is heavily reliant on voluntary co-operation and piecemeal agreements”.