Aviation and Climate Change: Can the airline industry continue to grow in a carbon-constrained economy?

Andrew Macintosh, Christian Downie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The aviation industry has grown rapidly over the past 50 years. One of the downsides of this growth has been a substantial increase in aviation greenhouse gas emissions. Concerns about the growth trajectory of the industry and emissions have led to calls for measures to be introduced to restrict demand and prompt innovation. In response, the European Union has announced that both domestic and international flights will be included in its Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012. At the time of writing, no similar measures had been proposed in Australia. This article considers whether the unconstrained growth of the aviation industry in Australia is compatible with reducing the nation's greenhouse gas emissions to levels that are required to minimise the risk of dangerous climate change. To do this, the article projects Australia's aviation emissions (international and domestic) over the period 2005 to 2050 and compares the projections to likely national emission reduction targets in 2050. The results suggest that total aviation emissions could rise by more than 250 per cent over this period. With such rapid growth, aviation could account for over 30 per cent of Australia's entire emissions space by 2050 if there is a desire to reduce emissions by 60 per cent by the middle of this century.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)253-265
    JournalAustralasian Journal of Environmental Management
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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