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Aviation in climate protection: Airlines are reacting to climate debates

Updated June 12, 2019, 16:41

In Sweden the word everyone knows: flying shame, the ecologically motivated shame of using an airplane. For fast-growing air traffic is considered a climate killer. But due to lack of alternative propulsion, jets will burn fossil kerosene for many years and blow the climate-damaging CO2 into the atmosphere. Industry is struggling for its image.

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Still, "flying ash" is just a common slogan, especially in Scandinavia. Neither on the German or international aviation market, customers will refrain from a noticeable booking of air travel – after the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, called the "Greta effect".

According to the IATA Air Transport Association, global passenger numbers will increase by 5% to 4.6 billion this year and the industry is likely to reap net profit for the tenth consecutive year.

However, the image of the industry has received considerable scratches during climate change. "They are jointly responsible for the diving on our planet," for example, the Friday for the Future activist Maximilian Remmers threw CEO of Lufthansa Karsten Shore at this year's annual general meeting.

Although aviation accounts for just under 3% of global CO2 emissions, there is a lack of positive prospects in this sector given the continuing global growth.

Internal combustion engines are the only option

Unlike ground traffic or energy production, there is no technical alternative to internal combustion engines for aircraft in the medium term. The enormous energy needs of aviation engines quickly push battery-electric solutions to a minimum, fuel cell aircraft are still in a research phase. It would be possible for a flight without emissions.

A climate-appropriate intermediate step will be the use of renewable fuels, as in the case of cars. Since 2008, bio-kerosene has been tested in civil aviation and since 2016 has been using United United for regular traffic. Lufthansa has also tested bio-fuel but indicated low availability and very high prices.

In the foreseeable future, the rapid modernization of the fleet will remain the largest lever of airlines to make it more environmentally friendly. Irish low-cost airline Ryanair says it emits the lowest CO2 emissions in the European aviation industry at 66 grams per passenger kilometer. The high use of the jets (96%) and the low average age of the fleet of only six years are useful here.

Ryanair has benefited from rapid growth in recent years to date about 475 aircraft. The fact that the Irish have ordered another 210 aircraft and wants to increase the number of passengers from the last 153 million to more than 200 million in 2024 but also shows the growth problem.

All of these flyers must be filled first: Ryanair promises to continue to lower prices as an incentive that many believe is the true cause of continued growth, at least in Europe.

Sustainable travel in harmony with nature is not only soothing and good for the conscience but also for the environment and the local people in the countries concerned to relax.

Does taxing gasoline make sense?

Political, global taxation of aviation fuel is a debate. The national one-sided for kerosene tax will have the disadvantage that they will unilaterally load local companies and airports, says the German BDL Association.

Variables could choose because of lower fares in kerosene in tax-exempt countries, and even in Germany the launch of passengers will avoid price advantages.

This has happened to a small extent after the introduction of the air tax in 2011, which annually imports more than one billion euros into the federal treasury. The tax applies to all flights departing from German airports. The amount depends on the distance of the tourist destination and is a passenger between € 7.46 and € 41.97.

The current EU Commission has looked at the effects of the kerosene tax all over Europe, but there is no political majority. According to the report drafted by the Transport and Environment Association, CO2 emissions could be reduced by eleven percent due to approximately 10% more expensive tickets. European air traffic is also already involved in continental emission trading flights for industry and the energy sector.

Compensation for Co2 Certificates

Despite all the weather factors, the industry wants to get a white vest, at least on the ground. Heat, electricity and apron traffic are the starting points for ADV members who want at least half of their CO2 emissions by 2030. Lufthansa also focuses on green electricity and electric cars on the ground and wants to become climate-neutral by 2030.

Air, on the other hand, only compensations – free riding or selling indulgences – are what ecological activists call it. It was not possible to hope for voluntary contributions from passengers. Despite the inexpensive survey statements, only a small proportion of travelers are willing to donate to climate protection projects through suppliers such as Atmosfair or Myclimate.

From an industrial country, the IATA Airline Association relies on the initially voluntary compensation program "Corcia", to which so far western countries have joined. Above the pollutant level of 2020, each additional gram of Co2 must be offset by appropriate certificates.

The organization expects to reach 2.5 billion tonnes by 2035, with a compensation value of nearly $ 40 billion for climate projects. These emissions will not be avoided but only compensated by climate projects. In the long term, the pollutant level should be reached in 2050, corresponding to half of 2005 (KAD / DPA)

Plastic waste pollutes the environment and endangers living creatures. More and more people are turning to alternatives to reduce their environmental footprint. But bioplastics, paper or glass are often no less harmful to the environment. (KAD)

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