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Air operations, Expert view, Industry trends, Sustainability

Aircraft CO2 Emissions Metrics and the role of ANSPs

November 29, 2022

Airlines, Airports and ANSPs have been working on sustainability in aviation for at least 25 years.

Andrew O’ Conner
Alex Brooker
Alex Brooker
Axel Bensch

By Andrew O’ Conner, VP of Product; Alexis Brooker, VP of Research, Axel Bensch, Business Development Director at Cirium

Sustainability in aviation is not new to us. Airlines, Airports and ANSPs in many parts of the world have been working to minimize impacts on noise and local air quality to our communities with standards established to monitor and adopt procedures to minimize aviation impacts for at least 25 years.

Our industry has implemented a number of resolutions to adopt net zero targets 

  • As far back as 2008, ACI Europe adopted a resolution on Climate Change in which airports committed to reduce carbon emissions with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral. The program has since been extended globally.
  • In 2021, IATA adopted a resolution for their member airlines to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • In 2022 we have now seen the launch of the CANSO GreenATM program highlighting our industry’s efforts to support the mitigation of the industry’s environmental impact.
  • ICAO has also announced an aspirational target for net zero emissions by 2050 at a recent gathering in Montreal

Did you know that Aviation currently accounts for only 2.5% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions?  When measured against all transport sources, aviation is responsible for only 12% of CO2 emissions, compared to 74% from road transport.

Responsibility for 2.5% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions does not seem like a large percentage in the scheme of things, however we must all contribute to the efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions and sustaining our planet for future generations.

Aircraft today are 80% more efficient than they were in the sixties, however jet fuel combustion from fossil fuel-powered aircraft still accounts for 79% of airlines’ emissions.

The aircraft manufacturing sector move to net-zero is now focused on multiple initiatives, such as increasing use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to reduce overall emissions in the short to medium term, and then application of hydrogen technologies in the medium to longer term; e.g., ZeroAvia and Airbus ZEROe.

ATM related impact on climate is closely linked to enhancing operational efficiency that is largely driven by inefficiencies in flight trajectories and associated fuel burn (and emissions).

Measuring improvements on emissions reductions emissions is enabled by understanding, measuring and managing emissions.

Cirium’s emissions data enables ANSPs to track the emissions and overall relative reductions in emissions in the FIR that have been enabled through operation and performance improvement initiatives as well as understanding where further focus on emissions reduction is required.

Cirium’s data also enables other parties to manage, measure and optimize their emissions. From simulating how operational efficiencies support emissions reductions through to KPI monitoring, Cirium Emissions Data enables ANSPs and Airports to measure aircraft emissions at runways, taxiways, aprons and the ramp as well as the terminal airspace.

Airlines also use Cirium data to accurately forecast emissions for their flights as well as for individual travelers, enabling carbon offset programs that allow individuals or corporations to address their travel emissions and take climate action by making voluntary contributions to offset projects. 

The integrity of Cirium emissions data ensures the level of quality required to ensure the optimum understanding and impact of addressing and reducing unavoidable emissions.

[1] States adopt net-zero 2050 global aspirational goal for international flight operations

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