But if the world is serious about tackling climate change, these fantastic engineering achievements are not enough. Whereas, in the year 2000, aviation contributed 2 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, it is projected that by 2050, aviation’s growth will increase its carbon emissions fivefold, even allowing for continued improvements in efficiency.
The generally accepted answer is that emissions must fall by 80% (no, don’t worry if that’s true or not but that is what is being said). So, that leaves us with 20% of current emissions that will still be allowable. If aviation takes up 50% of that, or rises to 10% of current emissions, that’s just fine. We should be using our emissions on whatever it is that produces the greatest value for us.
So, imagine, say, that we end up with no-emissions power generation and transport. We also get farming under control with no-till and more pasture land. These are at least theoretically possible. The emissions we’re still allowed to make could be that aviation plus, say, cement making. And then we’re fine.
The real point here being that just because we wish to have lower emissions in total does not mean that we need to reduce all sources of emissions. It’s entirely fine if some sources even grow as long as that total reduces.