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Shipping and aviation emissions in the context of a 2°C emission pathway

Principal investigators:

David S. Lee, Ling L. Lim, Bethan Owen

Click here for the full paper.

Most projections of shipping and aviation growth out to 2050 suggest increases in CO2 emissions. In the mid 2000s, shipping and aviation represented around 3.2% and 2.1% respectively of global CO2. If we are to achieve the 2°C target by 2100, then emissions will need to strongly decline in the future, with only a limited ‘window’ to start to reduce these emissions. However, if the shipping and aviation sectors growth ambitions are realized, then these sectors may become significant fractions of global CO2 emissions by 2050 (the limit of most projections for these sectors).

This paper reviews the range of CO2 emissions projections for shipping and aviation in the literature, and made by the sectors themselves, and shows that for a global 2°C emissions reduction pathway, then shipping might contribute between approximately 6% and 18% of median permissible total CO2-equivalent emissions in 2050, and aviation might contribute between approximately 4% and 15% of median total CO2-equivalent emissions, and the two sectors together might contribute between approximately 10% and 32% of total median CO2-equivalent emissions in 2050. Such a finding has significant implications for emissions available to other industrial and domestic sectors and the pressures that the shipping and aviation sectors will be under to reduce emissions.

(Shipping photo supplied by Zackzen.)