Aviation faces challenge to reduce pollution

Aviation represents around two percent of emissions of global carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main gases responsible for rising temperatures. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 April 2019
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Aviation faces challenge to reduce pollution

  • A total of 4.3 billion people flew in 2018, a 6.1 percent increase over the previous year
  • The sector is implementing an emissions trading scheme that aims to stabilize the situation at 2019-2020 levels

PARIS: Aviation has boomed in the past decades, with low-cost airlines helping make travel affordable to more people, but the industry faces a major challenge to play its part in cutting emissions responsible for global warming.
Aviation represents around two percent of emissions of global carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main gases responsible for rising temperatures, according to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
That is roughly equivalent to the overall emissions of Germany, according to consulting firm Sia Partners.
A total of 4.3 billion people flew in 2018, a 6.1 percent increase over the previous year. Air traffic is expected to double within the next 15 to 20 years.
Transport accounts for a quarter of the emission of climate-changing greenhouse gases in Europe, according to the European Environment Agency.
Road transport makes up the overwhelming majority of emissions in the sector at 70 percent of the total. Aviation and maritime transport account for most of the rest.
But on a measure of CO2 emitted each kilometer traveled by a passenger, air travel ranks top at 285 grams per passenger kilometer. Road transportation follows at 158 and rail travel at 14 grams per passenger kilometer, according to figures published by the European Environment Agency.
“For long-haul it’s complicated,” acknowledges Philippe Berland, a transportation expert at Sia-Partner.
“Air travel is also closely tied with the development of economic activity. It isn’t clear there would be a shift to other means of transport because air travel also brings rapidity in traveling from point A to B,” he said.
But for short distances a switch is more viable, so long as train travel is organized in an efficient manner, said Berland.
The sector is implementing an emissions trading scheme that aims to stabilize the situation at 2019-2020 levels.
Called the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation and run by the ICAO, the at first voluntary scheme will have the industry buy pollution credits for emissions above the baseline from other sectors that have reduced their production of greenhouse gases.
The ICAO has put the emphasis on improving the performance of aircraft.
Both Airbus and Boeing have in recent years rolled out new planes that offer double-digit gains in fuel savings from those they replace thanks to updated engines, use of lighter materials and aerodynamic modifications. These new planes are 80 percent more efficient than the first commercial airliners introduced in the 1960s, according to an ICAO expert.
The ICAO also believes gains can be made by better management of air traffic to reduce use of fuel and by developing sustainable biofuels.
Several airlines have begun testing biofuels. But their production costs remain high and their widespread adoption would increase competition for arable land.
In the longer term, the industry is looking toward technological developments such as electric engines.
While industry experts don’t expect electric engines to be rolled out commercially for another two decades, a new generation of plane designs that offer more fuel savings is likely to appear within five or ten years.


UN compensation panel pays out $270m for Kuwait oil company

Updated 23 July 2019
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UN compensation panel pays out $270m for Kuwait oil company

  • The panel has approved 1.5 million claims brought by over 100 governments and international organizations
  • Some $3.7 billion of its $14.7 billion claim for oil production and sales losses resulting from damage to the country’s oil fields remains to be paid

BERLIN: A United Nations panel that oversees compensation claims stemming from Iraq’s 1990-1991 invasion of Kuwait says it has paid out $270 million to Kuwait’s national oil company.
The Geneva-based UN Compensation Commission said Tuesday the tranche brings to $48.7 billion the amount it has paid out. Iraq must currently set aside 1.5% of proceeds from oil exports for the compensation fund and payments are made once per quarter.
The panel has approved 1.5 million claims brought by over 100 governments and international organizations, with all but one fully paid out.
The remaining claim, which includes the latest payment, comes from the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. Some $3.7 billion of its $14.7 billion claim for oil production and sales losses resulting from damage to the country’s oil fields remains to be paid.