Sustainable Freight: Towards a Greener Air Cargo Culture
International shipping and air freight have each played significant roles in the globalisation process of our world. Our choices and access to goods have increased, distances have been reduced, jobs have been created and economies have prospered. With all these positive changes come the irrefutable cost to the environment.
According to a report by the European Parliament , continuing on the current trajectory with no intervention will lead the aviation industry to account for 22% of global CO2 emissions by 2050. With freight transport forecast to grow by 100% by 2050, how can air cargo combat its own demons in the fight against climate change? Or will it always be seen as the bad boy for carbon emissions?
Within the transport sector, other modes such as road vehicles have already made significant strides towards carbon neutrality. But what’s standing in the way of the aviation industry? According to IATA, the aim is to reduce net emissions by 50% by 2050. These figures and reflective aims have sparked new initiatives and ideas to align the air cargo industry with the rest of the transport sector.
Worst offenders for airtravel emissions by country (Statista)
What’s the current climate?
As things stand, aviation and shipping currently account for 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Before you get over the shock, consider this; a one-way transatlantic flight for a single person from Paris to New York generates 381.58kg of CO2- according to the ICAOs carbon emissions calculator . To put this into some perspective, the latter figure is the carbon emissions produced by an average household over 10 days.
There’s no doubt that the aviation industry as made efforts to boost fuel efficiency via innovative engine designs. Yet when you consider the growth of air travel and that non-renewable energy is still being used; these efforts have not had a sufficient impact on emissions.
What challenges does the air cargo industry face?
Inadequacy in political frameworks
Lack of information and education
Cost of fuel and resources
The air cargo industry, in particular, is highly sensitive to fuel prices and world trade growth. It’s massively affected by economic disturbances such as the economic crisis in the late 2000s and not unlike the current global pandemic. The rise in the cost of fuel as well as meeting security requirements are also important challenges to be taken into account during business operations. Most importantly, the industry is constrained by limited resources, the number of aircraft which lend to economies of scale. Not to mention activities on the ground such as aircraft, component and engine maintenance .
As global oil prices have continued to fall over the past several years, the pressure on airlines to develop alternative, lower-carbon fuels has eased. As such, there’s little incentive for a drastic change compared to...