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European aviation report: continued growth of aviation poses environmental challenges


Continued growth of the aviation sector has produced economic benefits and connectivity in Europe, however environmental and health impacts have increased and are expected to grow substantially in the next 20 years. In particular the predicted increase in greenhouse gas emissions, if not addressed, could undermine efforts to mitigate climate change and limit the global temperature rise to below the target of 2degC in the Paris Agreement.  

Brussels – Outgoing Commissioner of Transport Violeta Bulc received the 2nd European Aviation Environmental Report (EAER) which has been prepared and published by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), in cooperation with the European Union Environment Agency (EEA) and EUROCONTROL. The report provides an assessment of the historic and forecasted environmental performance of the European aviation sector, along with the latest information on various mitigation measures to reduce the environmental impact of aviation. 

The report states that overall environmental impacts from aviation have increased by 10% for CO2, 12% for NOX and 14% for noise since 2014. Looking ahead, in the most likely traffic forecast, existing environmental impact mitigation measures are unlikely to counteract the increasing environmental impacts as the number of flights in Europe are expected to grow by 42% from 2017 to 2040. In that same timeframe, aircraft CO2 emissions are predicted to increase by 21% and NOX emissions by 16%. The number of airports that handle more than 50,000 annual aircraft movements is expected to increase from 82 in 2017 to 110 in 2040 and aviation noise may therefore affect new populations in the future.

The aviation sector must act – EASA to take on a leading role

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky underlined that “we need concrete and effective action to reduce aviation emissions over the next 10 years in order to support the Paris Agreement objectives and mitigate climate change. The aviation sector must play its part in this global effort. Addressing noise and air quality issues at a local level are also critical. Since EASA’s rules and our competencies with regard to environment have been further strengthened by the European Union, EASA now plays a leading role in actively developing and implementing measures to address these challenges in cooperation with our partners.”

Commissioner Bulc pointed out that "as Europeans we must continue to pioneer the battle against climate change. This new report shows that our joint actions are working: we have reduced fuel burn and noise per flight; investments have delivered more efficient technologies; airports are becoming carbon neutral, and finally we are starting to implement the first-ever global scheme to offset CO2 emissions!"

EASA’s new regulation enables the Agency to play a greater role on environment and work together in developing solutions in partnership with stakeholders (e.g. EU institutions, States, Industry, NGOs). As well as the publication of the European Aviation Environmental Report that contains an objective, accurate overview of the environmental performance of the aviation sector, the Agency’s extended environmental remit now includes, amongst other things: maintaining state-of-the-art environmental standards; certifying aircraft and engines against environmental standards; environmental modelling; research on new emerging topics (e.g. sustainable aviation fuels, electric and hybrid engines, drones, supersonics); promotion of improved environmental performance and international cooperation projects on environmental protection. 

The European Aviation Environmental Report 2019 is available on the EASA website. The Executive Summary of the report is also available in all EU languages plus Russian, Chinese and Arabic.