How does the aviation industry improve on CO2 emission and noise pollution? What are the facts?

With the success of the COP21 Environment agreement in Paris last December the international community for the first time recognized climate change as the greatest global challenge for the 21st century. Aviation was not included in the final text, the same as shipping. Does that mean there are no environmental targets for the aviation industry? Aviation’s interests like any industry conflict with the environment, in particular when it comes to noise pollution and emissions. Remarkably over the last decade the industry managed to improve its records on both subjects while at the same time achieving a continuous growth.

Key emission figures of the aviation industry.

Aviation’s total emissions contribute to 5% of all transport related emissions. In Europe the industry has accepted a 10% emission reduction by 2020 via the EU commission Single European Sky (SES) initiative. The number of airports with a carbon accreditation program has grown to 124 worldwide, this includes 64% of the European airports. A major hub like Amsterdam Schiphol airport has managed a 6% reduction in CO2 in 2014. Aircraft have become more fuel efficient, but the main driving factor is a better seat configuration by the airlines. Saving money as well as the environment.

Noise abatement procedures pay off 

The noise aircraft produce has decreased over the years. Not only have aircraft become less noisy as a result of regulations and the response by manufacturers. Operational noise abatement procedures are paying off. Again taking Schiphol airport as an example, the noise level is the same as 10 years ago, while during the same time the number of passengers and flights grew (24% and 8%).

Is there a sustainable future for the airline industry?

This month it is 100 years after the opening of Amsterdam Schiphol airport, the same can be said about most mayor European airports. Last year Schiphol handled a record of over 58 million passengers. The question is not if aviation will continue to grow, it will. The question is if it can grow in a sustainable way. The track record of the industry certainly is in favour of a ‘Yes’ to answer that question. However, we cannot wait for it to happen without continuous emphasis on the importance of sustainable growth. When the SES targets are to be met the challenges are great. To assist in keeping the discussion alive and fact based we have prepared this infographic, at a single glance you will learn about the key elements.

About To70. To70 is one of the world’s leading aviation consultancies, founded in the Netherlands with offices in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Latin America. To70 believes that society’s growing demand for transport and mobility can be met in a safe, efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable manner. For more information please refer to

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