How about this for a statement from Friends Of The Earth to put air traffic and its effects on the environment into perspective – “Air travel is the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which cause climate change. Globally the world’s 16,000 commercial jet aircraft generate more than 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the world’s major greenhouse gas, per year. Indeed aviation generates nearly as much CO2 annually as that from all human activities in Africa.”
It appears that the enormous pollution increase generated from aircraft activity is due to rapid industry growth which has been expanding at nearly two and half times average economic growth rates since 1960.
To put a little more scale to the industry, according to the Air Transport Action Group (pro aviation) there are over 58 million people employed worldwide in aviation and related tourism. Of this, 8.7 million people work directly in the aviation industry. Over 3 billion people use air transport a year. However, as a result aviation is responsible for 2% to all human activity generated CO2 emissions and 12% from all transport sources.
If aviation were a country, it would rank 21st in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), generating $606 billion of GDP per year, considerably larger than some members of the G20 (and around the same size as Switzerland). By 2026, it is forecast that aviation will contribute $1 trillion to world GDP.
In the next ten years it is estimated that aviation activity will increase by some 40% but the number of people flying will double over the next fifteen years and aircraft emissions will be 15% of all human activity within fifty years. The impact on the global atmosphere from air travel will be concentrated over Europe and the USA where 70-80% of all flights occur.
It is no wonder then that the EU, armed with this information, decided to make aircraft emissions the cornerstone of EU climate change policy. Whether you believe in human induced climate change here is irrelevant.
The recent Corporate Observatory report published a few days ago is centred around TTIP and ‘Regulatory Cooperation’ – a policy designed in secret to bypass all sorts of domestic legislation and without doubt an attack on democratic principles; a corporate coups d’état would be a good way to describe it.