Green trends, dark future?

As movements such as Fridays for Future continue to raise claims for more climate action, industries like civil aviation are not expected to lower their global emissions. In fact, by 2050, carbon emission levels caused by the international civil aviation industry are estimated to be twice as large as 2019 CO2 emissions. For reference, the global civil aviation industry emitted around 918 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018. 

Therefore, even after COVID-19 has hindered airlines from operating at full capacity, emission levels are still damaging the climate. The upwards trend of emission levels is dangerous for the planet and hinders the achievement of the 1.5° goal.

However, according to Smiths Detection, one of the top ten trends in aviation is an increasing focus on renewable energies by airports. Energy management solutions are also included in this tendency, which mirrors the general trend to building management standards and tools.

The reduction of waste and carbon emissions is one of the key priorities of airlines nowadays, mostly due to pressure from stakeholders like shareholders, regulators and clients. Delta Air Lines, a leader in domestic and international travel, committed $1 billion to the mitigation of all emissions from its business over the next 10 years moving forward. 

Other industry trends include innovative new fuel technologies such as hydrogen. They are having an increasingly big impact on the market. For instance, Airbus is working on different concepts which rely on hydrogen as the primary power source. While such advancements take both time and money, the industry can continue to invest in other climate initiatives. These could entail carbon offset programs through high-quality climate certificates as well as waste reduction and recycling methods.

On the other hand, a general development accelerated by several European governments reduces the popularity of domestic flights. The French government, for example, connected its bailout for Air France-KLM to terms like slashing domestic flights. Likewise, the German Green party proposes to make rail travel more popular by changing taxes and prices in order to effectively reduce domestic flights.

Overall, sustainability has become a topic that no airline company can truly avoid altogether. But while sustainability measures are being taken, the global civil aviation trend does not project a sufficient reduction in greenhouse gas emission levels. This being the ultimately deciding factor for climate change, the airline industry still has a long road ahead when it comes to sustainability. Green energy and fuel solutions are needed, along with a change in consumer behavior.

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