What Role Does Aviation Emissions Play With Regard To Greenhouse Gas Issues?




What Role Does Aviation Emissions Play With Regard To Greenhouse Gas Issues?


As noted earlier, the majority of aviation emissions occur at higher altitudes, thus generating greenhouse gases and potentially contributing to climate change. Also, under certain conditions, aircraft engine exhaust can produce contrails.

Scientists in the U.S. and around the world are researching the potential impact of contrails to see whether they have a significant impact on the greenhouse effect. 

Concern regarding greenhouse gas emissions has been building worldwide. The following graph30 shows the recent growth of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

The drop in emissions in 2001 reflects the slow economic growth and reduced industrial output that year in addition to the warm winter, which reduced fuel use for heating.

Growth in greenhouse gas emissions is expected to resume as the economy recovers and continues to expand in the future. While there are many different greenhouse gases, CO2 and NOx are generally most relevant from an aviation perspective.


The chart breaks down national emissions of greenhouse gases. In the U.S., transportation makes up about 27 percent and aviation about 2.7 percent of the national greenhouse gas inventory. Global estimates are similar with emissions of the world’s aircraft fleet at about three percent of the total greenhouse emissions from fossil fuel, the majority of which come from commercial aviation.  

This compares with all transportation sources that contribute approximately 25 percent of total global fossil fuel combustion emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. aviation have grown over the past 10 years and are projected to increase in the future.

The projection shown below conservatively assumes the relationship between aircraft operations and greenhouse emissions remains constant. As such, emissions track expected growth in aviation. 

According to the projection, aircraft greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. will increase 60 percent by 202534.   


Can A Comparison Be Made Between Aviation Emissions And Non-Transportation Sources?

 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                                       Contact Us              Return To News

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator