Today, aviation as an industry contributes a relatively small percentage of global carbon emissions, thanks in large part to 50 years of efforts by aerospace and aviation to increase aircraft energy efficiency. Since the 1960s, aerospace manufacturers have pushed the envelope to reduce aircrafts’ fuel consumption, and those efforts continue today with unprecedented turnover to modernize airline fleets, as well as add tools and tactics to optimize flying procedures and routes to minimize fuel burn. Amid continuing environmental pressures, the industry has also been investigating biofuels and other non-fossil fuel alternatives, according to David Stewart, Partner, Transportation and Operations at Oliver Wyman, and Alan Eberstein, Principal in Oliver Wyman’s Aviation Aerospace and Defense Practice. Oliver Wyman is an affiliate of Guy Carpenter.
While all of these efforts are admirable, the industry and these international organizations are unlikely to succeed in reducing aviation emissions, given the current hurdles, and aviation’s contribution to global carbon emissions is almost certain to rise over the next decade by a substantial amount.