SOURCE: New York Times

DATE: September 19, 2019

SNIP: Greenhouse gas emissions from commercial air travel are growing at a faster clip than predicted in previous, already dire, projections, according to new research — putting pressure on airline regulators to take stronger action as they prepare for a summit next week.

The United Nations aviation body forecasts that airplane emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, will reach just over 900 million metric tons in 2018, and then triple by 2050.

But the new research, from the International Council on Clean Transportation, found that emissions from global air travel may be increasing more than 1.5 times as fast as the U.N. estimate. The researchers analyzed nearly 40 million flights around the world last year.

“Airlines, for all intents and purposes, are becoming more fuel efficient. But we’re seeing demand outstrip any of that,” said Brandon Graver, who led the new study. “The climate challenge for aviation is worse than anyone expected.”

Underlying the growth in aviation emissions is the rapid expansion of air travel worldwide, propelled by a proliferation of low-cost airlines and a booming tourism industry catering to a growing middle class.

A separate study released this week by the industry group Airports Council International found that the world’s fastest-growing airports were in emerging economies; 12 of the top 30 were in either China or India.

The study underscored the heavy carbon-dioxide footprint of domestic flights, often left out of negotiations over global emissions-reduction targets.