Air travel–Aviation, tourism and climate change
With the changing time and advent of technology researchers are achieving tremendous success in their respective fields. Today, we can take air plane fly to everywhere, but even sky is not the limit, People are growing so well with technology that they are not lagging behind in converting their imagination into reality. However, the issue today is that is this success and growth sustainable in future for our upcoming environmental problem. From this essay I would like to pen down my opinion about “Impact on climate due to advancements and growth in aviation industry”.
I will discuss about the relationship between travel and aviation to further illustrate how air travel is responsible for climate change because it is now the subject of increasing academic attention. travel and aviation industry are complementing to each other. The growth in air transportation is directly proportional to growth in tourism industry. In last 25 years amount of International visitors has doubled which has put direct impact on transport geography. And Air travel is found to be major contributor to the increasing carbon emissions in the recent researches. The contribution of aviation to total global CO2 emissions in 2005 was widely taken to be approximately 3.5% (Smith & Rodger, 2009). Aviation projections, however, forecast Continued rapid growth, with average annual growth rates of 5.3% until 2023 (Go¨ssling & Peeters, 2007). And it is the only sector with unrestricted emission growth, aviation is expected to emit 15-40% of global CO2 by 2050 (Dubois & Ceron, 2006; Go¨ssling & Peeters, 2007).The relationship between climate change and attitudes towards long-haul air travel is yet to receive dedicated attention. Given current and projected aviation emissions growth rates, it is evident that “technology and management will not be sufficient to achieve even modest absolute emission reductions” (Gössling et al. 2010, p. 119). This, according to Gössling et al. (2010), confirms that social and behavioral change is necessary to achieve climatically sustainable tourism. Scientists are researching for decades to know attitude of society towards these growing emissions through their travel to know how much they are concerned for their future. Before highlighting the findings from those researches, I would like to write down my views on issues related to air travel and how they are impacting our biosphere.
One of the principal environmental issues related with aviation is aircraft noise. It remains high on the agenda of public concern. Noise disturbance is a difficult issue to evaluate as it is open to subjective reactions. Its impact is not a lasting one on the actual environment, but it can have significant adverse effects on people living close to an airport, including: interference with communication, sleep disturbance, annoyance responses, learning acquisition, performance effects and cardiovascular and psycho-physiological effects. Certain measure is required to be adopted reduce the impact of noise pollution on residents near to the aviation operations. ICAO 33rd assembly has introduced the balanced approach to noise management and they have up with the measures like flying on those routes on map that avoid residential areas as far as possible, avoid over flying on sensitive sites like schools and hospitals, limiting night operations, building sound proof barriers around the operations. But the major concern is that these measures can delay the risks but couldn’t stop them. With the increasing demand and fleet size in industry are threats getting increased related to wildlife. We can’t evaluate up to what extent animals are getting affected because of the noise of aircraft through indirect means. Therefore, in my opinion these measures are not sustainable for longer run for every living being residing in this society.
Another major concern is aviation emissions. CO2 is one of the most emitted gases from the aircraft fuel and the impact of CO2 on climate change is direct and it is totally counting on atmospheric concentration. Its molecule absorbs outgoing infrared radiation from earth’s surface.
It is observed that there has been 25-30% increase in CO2 concentration in last 200 years which is leading to warming up of troposphere. CO2 is an unavoidable product in combustion process of aircraft therefore the amount of C02 is determined by amount Carbon in the fuel. And if more amount of carbon is released more it will impact on air quality.
Thus, CO2 emitted from aircraft becomes well mixed and indistinguishable from CO2 from other fossil fuel sources, and the effects on climate are the same. The speed of growing CO2 proportion is faster than underlying global economic growth; therefore, aviation along with other human activities will increase total emission in coming years. Apart from CO2 Nitrogen Oxides are also released from aviation which tends to cause increased ozone amounts. Emission contains wide range if particulates mainly sulphate aerosols and soot which are involved in formation of contrails and cirrus clouds. Sulphate aerosols play a vital part in stratosphere and changes in sulphate levels effects on ozone level. 25 years ago contrails were covering 0.1% of earth and by 2050 it is expected to gear up to 0.5% because air traffic will increase. About 30% of earth now is covered to be cirrus clouds which tend to warm the surface of the earth which was estimated to be in the range of 0-2% in 1990’s. Some proportion of emission is absorbed by the water in oceans and which further affects the quality of water and leading to sickness of marine life . So all in all , It would be right to say emissions are not only responsible for deterioration of not only air but water also. Every individual needs to be aware about risks associated with long haul travel plans. These points clearly indicate to determine the travel practices of those engage in high and unrestricted aero mobility.
Aviation cannot be considered as sustainable because of the finite nature of the resources on which it relies. Demand for air transport is continuously growing so society must have to accept the costs related to it (noise, pollution, climate change, risk, resource use etc.). Climate change is another problem we are facing due to aviation operation. It is change in “average weather” that a given region experiences, including such factors as storm frequency, temperature, wind patterns and precipitation. And aviation itself is going through various difficulties in coping with this change such as change in wind direction affect runway configuration, more harsh weather situations and storms, effect on low lying airport due to rising sea levels. The situation has gone so bad that many countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol which is an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is implemented in objective to fight global warming by reducing the greenhouse gas concentration from Earth’s atmosphere and it puts obligation to decrease the current emission on the basis of their contribution of current levels greenhouse gases for the activities carried out in past. But this responsibility needs to be handled at individual level rather than only working on national scale. Although ICAO also adopted some strategic objectives with high priority to environmental protection like researching on alternate fuel which produce lesser carbon emission like conventional kerosene with changing the aircraft and infrastructure.
On October 6, 2016 ICAO finalized with its 191-member nations upon an agreement to address 1000t of carbon emitted annually by passenger and cargo flights and this measure could force air carriers to improve fuel economy in their routes and fleet promoting them to buy new fuel efficient planes and this will be effective from year 2021 with target of 80% global emission by 2035. And the agreement does not cover domestic emission which contributes to 40% of overall carbon in the air. But my question from an environmentalist’s perspective is if we already faced the global temperature increase of 1.5 degree then why these strategies aren’t implemented from today and why are we waiting to get situations worse?
Relationship between aviation and climate is not only affected by industrial actions but also by flyers behavior. Low-cost, high-volume air travel has grown dramatically over the past several decades. The global fleet of aircraft with a minimum of 100 seats, estimated at 13,300 in 2007, is projected by Airbus Industries to increase to 28,550 by 2026 (Holloway, Humphreys, ; Davidson, 2009). The middle classes who were most environmentally are now the most frequent flyers. The term ‘frequent flying’ (or the ‘frequent-flyer’ consumer) originates from schemes launched in the early 1980s to reward the most ‘loyal’ customers of airline companies (Young, Hingham ; ries). This program was launched by American airline to reward the flyers which later on was adopted by four more airlines with in the same year leading to 16 million flyers and currently every almost airlines is offering the same scheme which has around 100 million customers worldwide. Such programs need to be abolished to put some restrictions on flying habits of these flyers. Train journeys which are more sustainable needs to be promoted to for domestic transfers or may be International if possible. Eco tourism projects needs to introduce in market across worldwide like Alpine Pearls. Growth without any pressure on fossil fuels should be considered as a prime parameter to evaluate development of a nation.
Going through all the researches and findings I believe that ICAO and IATA should put some restrictions on low cost air carriers which are making air travel extremely cheap and contributing huge in carbon emission. License guidelines need to be compromised to operate on global scale. Carriers which are running with fewer passengers should be asked to venture jointly to increase the efficiency and further leading to less competition which helps in maintaining per seat capital. Slow speed jets need to be introduced in fleets which are more efficient than presently operating aircrafts. Carbon related taxes needs to be induced on domestic levels so that money can be put back to protect environment by adopting different alternatives. In tourism industry, there are many other factors also that are responsible for carbon emission but some enthusiast and entrepreneurs are putting tremendous efforts to find sustainable alternatives for promoting Eco friendly tourism for example
ALPINE PEARLS which is a model community for gentle mobility in Austria. Gentle mobility means being able to relish car-free vacations. Sustainable mobility is organized on all stages of the trip from train connection to local mobility by electric vehicles, Horse drawn carriages and eco-friendly cars. From 2007 to 2016, new members were added, all of which support eco-tourism, climate protection, and sustainable holidays. Today, 25 Pearls of the Alps in six countries help you enjoy carefree holidays in one of the most spectacular regions of the world, while at the same time being mindful of the environment. The ultimate comfort and service of this “new type of traveling” may just be what we were looking for.
This shows tourism is getting reformed day by day to generate revenue with the goal of protecting nature. These reforms are limited to the ground level and beneficiary for tourism industry and environmental risks related to mobility on cars, trains etc. but for aviation-based tourism we really need to find some substitute because the way we are exploiting our resources and nature it seems government will start monitoring flying hours of every individuals and start putting limitations on them.
These were some of the Industrial challenges we are facing and measures taken to resolve the issues on global level. Now I want to put some reflection on findings of different researchers on national scale and on individual level. I will discuss about some of the issues related to travelling to New Zealand and attitude of Individuals who are travelling to New Zealand for different purposes and their awareness level.
The CO2 emissions attributed to New Zealand’s inbound tourism markets are inescapably linked to visitor origin. European markets
Consume more energy than other New Zealand inbound visitor
Markets due to sheer distances travelled (Becken, 2002). One return journey from Europe to New Zealand by a single traveller
Equates to almost half of the average total per capita domestic CO2 emission of a European citizen. In contrast to visitors from Australia (who represent 37% of all international visitors to New Zealand, and 13% of CO2 emissions),European visitors comprise 18% of total visitor numbers yet account for 43% of the emissions associated with international visitor air travel (Smith & Rodger, 2009). With all this air travel to Zealand it is found to be most unsustainable and has led to rapid change in climate and contradicts to brand tagline which says “100% Pure New Zealand”. Money spent for travelling to New Zealand but it is not the real cost. According to researches people are very aware of the consequences but they were not willing to accept their personal responsibility where as some believe a trip to New Zealand is trip lifetime so they can’t resist themselves from visiting once.
Facing this brand scrutiny, different governing bodies have now joined hands to keep situation under control and reduce the carbon emission as much as possible. Through a voluntary carbon offset program, Air New Zealand offers customers the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions associated with Air New Zealand flights. When booking online, a customer’s carbon emissions for their flight(s) and the cost to offset them is automatically calculated and displayed. If a customer decides to offset their carbon emissions (or for other passengers who are on the same booking), the cost of emission units will be added to the total paid for the flight(s). And money goes to various native forest programs in Far North and Wellington regions of New Zealand. Airways Corporation of New Zealand (Airways) has started a started a program that allows airline to fly direct routes with minimum of delay which could avoid 37000 tons of CO2 each year. It wouldn’t wrong to say that Institutions of New Zealand are responding to need of today in appropriate manner. I personally believe that their concern and efforts towards the environment have set an example for other nations also. But these measures are not complete solution or sufficient enough make long haul journeys sustainable. Personal Aero mobility is another parameter to evaluate carbon emissions. Due to cheap air travel people are involved in different type of tourism like
Leisure, Educational, Spiritual, wildlife etc. but I believe substitutes for these things can be explored and implemented. With Increasing Internet credibility educational tourism can be transformed into online education system. Studying through video conferencing may prove more sustainable rather than travelling all the way from one destination to another. Leisure holiday travels can be compromised to visit short haul destinations. All we need is to spread awareness on individual level to reduce personal environmental footprints because change for better future can only be achieved if starts with in.
Putting things in nutshell, I would like to give a conclusion on the reflections and perspectives due to which I convinced myself to write this essay. I personally believe that environment problem is making people afraid to face the future demands and aviation plays a vital role to keep things on right track. In modern society, growth and development are necessary processes without which life can’t go ahead but it should be limited if risks our environment. We have developed a socio-technical-economic system that can dominate and destroy nature. Emphasis is required to be laid on foresight and careful planning rather than on growth rates or market control. Simple and sorted lifestyle should be always preferred over fast and complex lifestyle.
https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/Pages/default.aspxCohen, Scott Allen and Higham, James E. S.(2011) ‘Eyes wideshut? UK consumer perceptions on .aviation climate impacts and travel decisions to New Zealand’, Current Issues in Tourism, 14: 4, 323 — 335.
Climate Change, Discretionary Air Travel, and the ”Flyers’ Dilemma” James E. S. Higham, Scott A. Cohen and Christina T. Cavaliere Journal of Travel Research 2014.
http://www.eurocontrol.int/articles/environmental-issues-aviationhttps://www.alpine-pearls.com/en/about-us/alpine-pearls/https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/environment-informationBINGE FLYING Behavioral Addiction and Climate Change
Scott A. Cohen Bournemouth University, United Kingdom
James E.S. Higham Christina T. Cavaliere University of Otago, New Zealand.