This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 02, 2005

Report: Airlines Make Greenhouse Gas Goals Difficult for U.K.

Airlines pose a quandary for nations attempting to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, since any fuel efficiency advances are overwhelmed by growth in the airline industry. Despite these challenges, the European Commission—one of the governing bodies of the European Union—recommended in late September that aviation emissions be included in the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme for greenhouse gases. The Commission noted that the Kyoto Accord only applies to domestic flights, but if emissions from international flights aren't controlled, their growth could cancel out more than a quarter of the European Union's greenhouse gas reductions under the Accord. The Commission believes that including the airlines in the emissions trading scheme will create incentive for airlines to reduce their emissions, without a significant impact on flight costs. See the Commission's Aviation and Climate Change Web page.

A report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is skeptical about the long-term view for airline emissions, particularly with regard to the United Kingdom's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 60 percent by 2050. If the aviation industry keeps growing at current rates, the report claims that every U.K. household, motorist, and business would have to cut their emissions to zero by 2050. See the Tyndall Centre press release (PDF 162 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Recent news from UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, is more encouraging. UPS found it could save fuel by reducing excess fuel carried by its aircraft, slowing flights when practical, taxiing with only one engine, and using electrical power from the terminal while on the ground. The company is also using a computerized flight planning system to calculate the most efficient route between two points and is considering a descent approach that allows planes to glide into the airport using minimal power. See the UPS press release.