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Aviation’s impact on climate change higher than thought

airplaneA recent study by European and US researchers has found that aviation emissions have a greater impact on global warming than has been estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The research says aviation’s contribution to human-caused climate change is about 4.9 percent. That’s nearly two-thirds higher than the 3 per cent assumed in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.

“The mathematical system used to calculate the contribution of aviation to climate change in the Fourth Assessment Report was seriously flawed, and it’s good to see that this has now been corrected so we get a clearer picture of the true impact,” said Bill Hemmings, a policy officer with the European Federation for Transport & Environment.

Aviation has an effect on climate through its emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, aerosols, soot and sulphate, and also increases cloudiness via contrails and induced-cirrus cloudiness.

Between 2000 and 2005, global aviation traffic increased by 22.5 per cent and aviation fuel use rose by 8.4 per cent. No international climate agreement currently sets limits on aviation-related emissions, although several leading airline companies are now calling for such regulation.

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