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Growth in European air travel expected to produce significant gains in carbon emissions

By Brady Jones
Medill Reports

Carbon emissions from European air travel could increase by at least 21 percent by 2040, according to a newly released study.

The 2019 European Aviation Environmental Report highlights the growth trend in the aviation sector throughout the continent. The number of kilometers flown in Europe has increased by 20 percent since 2014 and 60 percent since 2005.

This gain in travel, however, contributed an estimated 163 million metric tons of full-flight carbon dioxide emissions in 2017—an increase of 10 percent since 2014 and 16 percent since 2005. This is the equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of more than 34 million cars, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions calculator.

The report, published by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), examines this growth by the aviation industry in the context of the European Union’s stated goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In 2016, the aviation industry was responsible for 3.6 percent of greenhouse gas emissions for the EU and 13.4 percent of its overall transportation emissions. This represents the second highest release of transportation emissions after road traffic.
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