Aviation’s contribution to cutting climate change likely to be small

Although the emissions targets for aviation are in line with the overall goals of the Paris Agreement, there is a high likelihood that the climate impact of aviation will not meet these goals, according to a new study.

Aviation is an important contributor to the global economy, but contributes to climate change by creating carbon dioxide as well as non-CO2 effects such as forming nitrogen oxides, ozone and contrail cirrus clouds, which all contribute to global warming.

Researchers believe that, as long as the industry stages a recovery, the restrictions placed on global air travel in response to Covid-19 lockdown will only have a temporary effect on the overall climate impact of aviation.

Publishing their findings on 21 June in Nature Communications, an international research team including experts from the University of Birmingham believes that non-CO2 effects will continue to make a major contribution to aviation’s climate impact over the coming years.