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Decarbonizing aviation: comparing nine policies

Aviation needs to bring its CO2 emissions down to zero not far beyond 2050. To achieve this, a wide range of technologies and policies is considered. Among these are taxes, ban on short flights, faster trains, electric planes, zero-carbon fuel and enhanced energy efficiency of aircraft and operations. For policy development and for investment decisions, it is useful to have insight into the impact of alternative approaches. The table below assesses the three most important consequences of different policies: CO2 emissions, ticket price and travel volume. This gives a first comparative overview. The data are estimates, based on uncertain assumptions (see paper). This assessment is not intended as final answer, instead as a kick-off for discussion and improvements. Despite its limitations, the overview shows that sustainable fuels will have a large role in decarbonizing aviation.

Download my paper for explanation and assumptions: Decarbonizing aviation

The aviation industry asks governments for a level playing field.  If they were serious about net-zero CO2 in 2050, they would propose government regulation to achieve this. However, they don’t. Read my T&E blog What would the airline industry do if they were serious about achieving carbon free flying in 2050? (July 2022)

The aviation industry shifts part of the responsibility for their contribution to the climate crisis to the passengers, who want to fly. Taking this argument serious, implies that they offer carbon free ticket. This is technical feasible by using green synthetic kerosene. However, the aviation industry doesn’t offer green tickets. Read my search for a travel agency: Is it possible to fly to New York without emitting CO2? (April 2022).


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