There has been rapid passenger growth in air travel in recent years, with increased leisure time travel and the advent of low cost airlines acting as additional drivers to economic growth. Emissions from the international aviation sector account for 3.8% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and about 2% in global emissions (EC, 2021). See www.ec.europa.eu for further details. While the overall contribution of aviation to greenhouse gas emissions is considerably lower than road transport, this contribution is growing at a significant rate.
The IPCC has estimated that aviation is responsible for approximately 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change and has predicted that aviation’s contribution could grow to between 5-15% of the total contribution by 2050, if action to tackle these emissions is not taken. Furthermore, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) predicted that emissions from aviation could increase by 300% in 2050 compared to 2005. Urgent action is therefore needed (Carbon Market Watch, 2018)
In an effort to tackle aviation’s small but fast-growing contribution to climate change, the EU issued a legislative proposal in December 2006, suggesting a cap on CO2 emissions for all planes arriving or departing from EU airports, while requiring airlines to trade in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
This cost of this cap and trade system on the airlines may lead to increased costs of flights for the consumer in line with the “polluter pays principle”. In addition, some companies are offering consumers the option to offset their personal aviation emissions using a number of options. The Irish Government has in place since 2007 an offsetting scheme for business flights taken by ministers and civil servants.
An update to this legislation is proposed in the second quarter of 2021 (EC, 2021).
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