Aviation and shipping environmental impacts

06 February 2018

Article: 52/0508

Aviation and shipping is the focus of the ‘Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM)’ report published on 31 January 2018 by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The two sectors have seen tremendous growth over past years amid a boost in economic growth, which has stimulated international trade and travel. However, the sectors have come under increased scrutiny over their rising emissions and how they can meet European Union decarbonisation goals.

By 2050, global aviation and shipping together are anticipated to contribute almost 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions, unless further mitigation actions are taken. Further, transport, including aviation and shipping, continues to be a significant source of air pollution. It is also the main source of environmental noise in Europe and contributes to a range of environmental pressures on ecosystems.

The two transport sectors face complex challenges in reducing their environmental impacts. The report notes that in many ways the sectors are locked into established ways of operating which can be difficult to change. For example, past investments in conventional airport and seaport infrastructure can delay the uptake of more sustainable technologies, and opportunities to encourage alternative cleaner modes of transport like rail, for shorter trips. Similarly, the long lifespan of airplanes and vessels can hamper a faster shift to cleaner technologies. Other hurdles to be overcome include the lack of research on cleaner fuels for both aircraft and ships, as well as the costs involved in producing them.

Source: EEA, 31 January 2018