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

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.


Microsoft shares fall 4% after warning of coronavirus hit to supply chain

Updated 28 February 2020

Microsoft shares fall 4% after warning of coronavirus hit to supply chain

  • Drop in share price wiped off nearly $50 billion from the Microsoft’s market value
  • Apple was the first big technology firm to come out and say the virus was affecting its production and demand in China

NEW YORK: Shares of Microsoft Corp. fell more than 4 percent on Thursday after the company warned of weakness in PC business due to a hit to its supply chain from the coronavirus outbreak, echoing similar statements from Apple Inc. and HP.

The drop in share price wiped off nearly $50 billion from the Microsoft’s market value on a day when broader markets were down more than 2 percent.

The virus has so far infected about 80,000 people, killed nearly 2,800 and spread to 44 countries, after originating in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Apple was the first big technology firm to come out and say the virus was affecting its production and demand in China. PayPal Holdings Inc. and Mastercard Inc. have also warned about a possible hit.

Microsoft said on Wednesday its supply chain was returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated and its Windows and Surface computers had been more negatively impacted than expected.

“Finished good inventory levels matter. If Microsoft had not fully assembled and packaged Surface units in the channel, then the impact would be felt faster and more severely,” Morningstar analyst Dan Romanoff said in a mail.

The global stock markets have also taken a hit as investors grew cautious of the impact of the virus on global supply chains. The Dow Jones Industrials index dropped more than 400 points at the open on Thursday.

Several Wall Street analysts expect other technology companies with heavy presence in China to soon come out with their own statements.

“Given there seems to be weakness in the PC supply chain, it would seem highly likely to me that we hear something from Intel,” Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell said in a mail.

Andrew MacMillen, an analyst with Nucleus Research, said that PC makers such as Dell Technologies Inc. and Lenovo Group could be seeing some difficulties.

Dell, the world’s third-biggest PC maker after Lenovo Group and HP, will report quarterly earnings after market close on Thursday. It has a sizeable exposure to China.

Microsoft said on Wednesday it would miss its own third quarter revenue forecast for the PC unit, which houses Windows, of $10.75 billion and $11.15 billion. 

J.P.Morgan analysts said that Microsoft’s guidance is a supply chain issue, not a demand issue, but it was possible that broad supply chain issues plus investors becoming increasingly averse to risk could metastasize into demand issues over time.