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Sustainable Aviation Fuels: CO₂ Solutions



  Apr 22, 2024

Sustainable Aviation Fuels: CO₂ Solutions



1. What percentage of global CO₂ emissions is contributed by aviation?

Aviation contributes about 2.5% of global CO₂ emissions from fossil sources and land use.

2. Why does aviation contribute more to global warming than its share of CO₂ emissions suggests?

Despite only contributing 2.5% to global CO₂ emissions, aviation accounts for about 4% of global warming. This discrepancy is due to additional climate impacts from aviation, such as the release of water vapor and other gases at high altitudes, which have warming effects beyond just the CO₂ emissions.

3. How has aviation demand changed over time?

From 1990 to 2019, the demand for both passenger and freight travel in aviation approximately quadrupled. In 2019, passengers traveled more than 8 trillion kilometers.

4. How has the energy efficiency of flying changed?

Flying has become significantly more energy-efficient due to improvements in aircraft design, technology, and operations. Energy usage per passenger-kilometer has more than halved from 2.9 megajoules (MJ) in 1990 to 1.3 MJ in 2019.

5. Has the carbon intensity of aviation fuel changed over time?

The carbon intensity of jet fuel has not changed significantly; standard jet fuel used in 1990 is essentially the same as that used today. Alternative fuels like biofuels represent only a tiny fraction of the total fuel used.

6. How have technological advances in aviation affected CO₂ emissions?

Technological advances have made flying more than twice as carbon-efficient per kilometer traveled. However, these gains have been partly offset by the quadrupling of demand, resulting in a doubling of total CO₂ emissions from aviation since 1990.

7. What are sustainable aviation fuels (SAF)?

Sustainable aviation fuels are fuels that are made from sustainable resources, such as waste oils, fats, greases, and plant materials, and can reduce CO₂ emissions compared to conventional jet fuel. SAFs are seen as a key component in reducing aviation’s overall carbon footprint.

8. What is the potential impact of sustainable aviation fuels on emissions?

SAFs have the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on the feedstock and production method, SAFs can reduce lifecycle CO₂ emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel.

These FAQs provide a broad overview of the role of aviation in global CO₂ emissions and the efforts being made to mitigate its environmental impact.


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