The Asia-Pacific region’s carbon emissions from aviation could be halved due to the coronavirus pandemic — a reduction of 13.2 megatons of carbon dioxide in the air this year alone — according to a study released this week.

Sweeping groundings have seen massive reductions in aviation emissions. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

The drastic decline of aviation emissions may soon be an underestimation, as more and more airlines in Asia slash flights. Asia-Pacific produces the largest output of carbon dioxide emissions of any region globally.

Fourteen of the 20 biggest polluting airlines grew their CO2 emissions within Europe in 2019 – according to the official EU figures; however, like the Asia-Pacific, Europe’s emissions are also set to fall.

“Airlines grew their emissions right up until this crisis, but this current bust will be followed by another boom in CO2 so long as aviation emissions remain untaxed and unregulated. Governments must break that cycle by sticking with the European Green Deal commitment to rein in emissions growth.”

Andrew Murphy, Aviation Manager at T&E

Climate agencies believe this crisis presents a strong opportunity for airlines to drastically reduce their emissions, also it is an opportunity for the aviation sector to rethink their approach to greenhouse gases.

The decline in air travel has grounded aircraft. Picture: REUTERS

Australia produces the sixth-highest output of greenhouse gases from the aviation sector in the world.

The report by The Australia Institute said that aviation emissions would be slashed by 56 percent, provided the sweeping flight cancellations and groundings, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, continue.

The report said that the reduction in emissions, based on International Air Transport Association (IATA) data, would likely become an underestimation as the pandemic continued.

Asia-Pacific has seen a massive increase in aviation emissions in the last decade.
Graph: Wikimedia Commons

The report found cuts to air traffic had already seen a 10 percent reduction in global emissions in March 2020, compared to the same time last year.

Australia Institute analysis shows that global emissions from aviation, in February and the first half of March 2020, are already lower than this time last year. The study showed that worldwide travel is set to decrease by 40 percent in 2020, also by 37 percent in the Asia-Pacific region. The reduction will undoubtedly continue.

Cover Image by Lufthansa Twitter