Air cargo emissions forecasted to increase

IATA has set the goal of achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020 and reducing 50 percent in net emissions by 2050, reducing the carbon footprint produced by moving cargo by air. It’s an important goal, given that the International Transport Forum (ITF) has estimated that CO2 emissions from freight transport will grow by 290 percent by 2050, and emissions will grow 286 percent in the same period with volumes transported reaching as much as 767 million tonnes.

ITF also reported that freight will replace passenger traffic as the main source of CO2 emissions from surface transport. Analysts have also stated that more emissions will be produced from freight cargo than passengers by 2050.

Air transport currently represents 2 percent of global carbon emissions, where maritime shipping accounts for 4 percent of the same. Air transport CO2 emissions are expected to increase 3 percent by 2050 according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, the effect of CO2 emissions from aircraft is two to three times higher compared to ground emissions because aircraft release CO2 at high altitudes into the atmosphere, where more harm is done according to Time for Change.

Globally, CO2 emissions are an important environmental issue, stirring up great emotional debate. The International Air Cargo Association has recognized the importance of environmental responsibility and is working with the industry and governments to address the issue with the goal of improving annual fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent by 2020, continuing to reach carbon-neutral growth, with a net carbon reduction of 50 percent by 2050.

The concern is that with the air cargo industry picking up and emissions being a topic of concern, it is possible that stricter airfreight legislation could be introduced, which could stymie the industry’s growth. As previously reported in Air Cargo World, the upshot in growth has been in the Asia and Middle East markets.

Last year, the IATA Air Cargo Carbon Footprint team adopted recommended practices at the Cargo Services Conference.  Airlines, forwarders, shippers and regulators required one common international standard. CO2 emissions are calculated from fuel consumption linked to airborne, taxiing, turnaround and auxiliary power use. All CO2 emissions from full freighter operations are allocated to revenue load; the use of incremental loads was not recommended for belly cargo.

ITF has suggested that full cargo loads would increase efficiency. Deutsche Post DHL introduced a bundled environmental and climate protection program, GoGreen in 2008, which includes using biofuel and hybrid trucks and more efficient aircraft. The program has been declared a success. Others who are moving to more environmentally conscientious practices are Cathay Pacific Cargo, FedEx, Emirates and UPS.

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