Over the next two decades airline passenger traffic within the Asia/Pacific region will be the fastest growing in the world and will account for over a third of all new aircraft purchased. Not only will aircraft emissions from air travel increase significantly in absolute terms but, against a background of emissions reductions from many other sectors, their relative rate of increase will be even greater. 

International aviation is currently excluded from the global climate change regulatory regime. 

If proposed reductions in emissions from ground-level activities are achieved, and the growth in air transport as projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) occurs, air travel will become one of the major sources of human-induced climate change by mid-century. 

Policies need to be developed and implemented at the international level to offset the environmental impact of air travel; account for projected growth in such travel; and stimulate research with regard to new fuel efficient aircraft, ‘green’ fuels and the reduction or capture of aircraft emissions. 

This project (with involvement from aviation industry participants) would set out regional and global climate change mitigation policies and arrangements for the aviation industry, together with development of tools and models to assess the effectiveness of such policies, and how they could be integrated. They are of significance given their potential to assist: 

  • international cooperation in terms of research, emissions reductions and emissions trading for the aircraft industry; 
  • acquisition by aircraft manufacturers of cleaner sources of raw materials, and clean and energy efficient manufacturing processes to produce lower emissions aircraft; 
  • optimization of airline operations; 
  • upgrading by air traffic control providers of air traffic management practices that optimize flight paths and improve communications and safety; 
  • improvement of airport operations so as to optimize aircraft usage with less idling; and 
  • research by aircraft manufacturers to reduce and capture emissions. 

Such collaboration and development by the proposed multi-disciplinary research team is additionally important given the ongoing failure to date at the regional (EU) and global levels to adequately address the aviation emissions problem, against a background (on IPCC calculations) where aviation’s growing contribution to total emissions, estimated at 3%, could be as high as 8%.

Funding: UQRS (University of Queensland Research Scholarship)

Advisors: Dr Paul Dargusch, Dr Anthony Halog

Project members

Kwong-sang Yin

Kwong-sang Yin

PhD Graduate 2017