How we help airlines to grow greener

Aiming for climate neutrality

November 28, 2018. On the front page of Belgian quality newspaper ‘De Standaard’ is written in big letters: (literally translated) Europe needs to be climate neutral by 2050.

It doesn’t say “Europe wants to be climate neutral”, no, it needs to be. "True, there are many challenges on the road," warns EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. "But status quo is not an option."

The EU have set out eight scenarios for member states to cut warming gases - two of these strategies would see Europe become climate neutral. The EU says that this can be done with existing technologies such as solar and wind energy which would have to be ramped up to provide 80% of electricity. Energy efficiency measures such as home insulation would also need to be boosted to reduce energy consumption by half by the middle of the century.

But that’s not all...

Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc said: “All transport modes should contribute to the decarbonisation of our mobility system. The goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This requires a system approach with low and zero emission vehicles (…); alternative fuels and smart infrastructure; and global commitments."

All transport modes should contribute. That includes air travel. De Standaard mentions specifically that aviation will finally have to make a contribution. In the first place, this is based on cleaner fuels. That is probably the first thing you thought about as well. But there is another, very easy contribution that airlines can make to cut their carbon emissions and help Europe just a little bit towards its goal of becoming carbon neutral.

Major international airlines are using aircraft insecticides on certain routes. These products are needed to stop vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, etc. from spreading around the globe. There are a couple of aircraft disinsection procedures that are recommended by the World Health Organization, but most of them include the use of an aerosolized aircraft disinfectant.

Since the 1st of January 2018, manufacturers are no longer allowed to use old, fluorinated greenhouse gases with a high global warming potential.

Old aircraft insecticide aerosols used to contain a propellant with a very high Global Warming Potential (GWP > 1300). However, a new European Regulation (517/2014/EC) on the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases is in force since January 1st, 2015. This regulation aims to reduce the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases with a high global warming potential.

Since the 1st of January 2018, manufacturers are no longer allowed to use old, fluorinated greenhouse gases with a high global warming potential. However, many environmentally harmful products are still on the market and these are widely, even by European airlines. Whether they make the switch anytime soon, remains to be seen, but switching to a more sustainable product would be killing two birds with one stone: fighting both climate change while also helping to prevent the spread of vector borne diseases.

All transport modes should contribute. Europe needs to be climate neutral by 2050.

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