Rise in carbon emissions from airline operations

Carbon emissions due to airline operations from Indian destinations increased by 1.57 per cent in 2013 with a latest government report saying the planes emitted 1.56 crore tonnes of carbon dioxide compared to 1.53 crore tonnes in 2012.

However, this was just 2.21 per cent of global emissions due to airline operations, which had touched 70.5 crore tonnes.

The latest “Carbon Footprint of Indian Aviation, 2013” report prepared by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has warned that the emissions are likely to increase given the “significant expected” growth of Indian aviation.

The report also predicted that the baseline emissions due to airline operations are estimated to touch 2.65 crore tonnes in 2020, adding that India is committed to actively addressing climate change challenge.

The emissions of India scheduled passenger airlines to and from domestic destinations was 63.65 lakh tonnes last year, which rose from 61.35 lakh tonnes in 2012. The 2013 figure was nowhere near 67.55 lakh tonne carbon emissions in 2011.

Similarly, the emissions of India scheduled passenger airlines to and from international destinations was 55.85 lakh tonnes, which also registered a 2.95 per cent increase compared to the 54.25 lakh tonnes in 2012.  Foreign airlines operating to and from India accounted for another 36.80 lakh tonnes of carbon emission. In 2013, Indian airports emitted another 7.8 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The DGCA attributed the increase to general passenger developments, introduction of new routes by domestic airlines and an overall increase in aircraft movements by airlines.  “Aviation industry, though a small contributor, is aggressively working to minimise the adverse impact on environment. India’s aviation industry has also taken proactive initiatives to address this issue,” the report said. 

The DGCA also credited Indian airlines as they were taking several measures. “Some airlines (Jet Airways) show a significant reduction, small reduction (SpiceJet, GoAir and Air India) and small increase (IndiGo, JetLite). Some India scheduled passenger airlines are still above the global average, suggesting there is room for further improvement in efficiency,” it said.

On a positive note, the report said the commendable performance was due to improved efficiency of some Indian airlines, higher load factors and use of newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft like SpiceJet’s Q400).

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