The Dimensions of Aviation’s contribution to Climate Change- matter of debate
No resolution until some consensus on the precise quantity
Whittle Laboratory, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and the Prince of Wales research
with interactive evidence-based simulator
An announcement of an Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA) study which seeks to quantify the climate damage by aviation. This monumental research project is led by the Whittle Laboratory and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). The results may establish a basis for a consensus approach to this global issue,
There is no bigger nor more debatable problem than aviation’s contribution to climate change. The Green Party, at one end of this controversy, is certain that emissions from aircraft must be stopped. Conversely, there are those, like IATA, who assert that technology and operational improvements should reduce the impact to an acceptable level at a reasonable pace.
The experts have expounded their opinions and the plots of their views resemble a scattergram:
Aviation and Climate Change Congressional Research Service
EPA Determines that Aircraft Emissions Contribute to Climate Change Endangering Public Health and the Environment
A discussion of what a balanced approach to transportation and the environment cannot begin unless and until an assessment of the problem dimensions can be agreed to by all the stakeholders, national governments and international organization.
The credibility of the Whittle Laboratory and of the CISL should make their analysis acceptable to all involved. The Laboratory has impeccable engineering and academic credentials, and the Institute is known for its integrity. The World Economic Forum is placing its worldwide imprimatur on this effort to reach a consensus on this complex, dynamic and interconnected policy issue. Perhaps the most significant participant in the AIA, through his Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative, is Prince Charles, whose royal actions in support of the environment are well known.
A new project called the Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA) aims to quantify the climate damage caused by the industry by designing an interactive evidence-based simulator to explore different scenarios. It seeks to cover the whole sector, including the sources of renewable electricity and raw materials, the creation and transport of fuel, and the impact of new technology.
The mission is led by the Whittle Laboratory and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Professor Rob Miller (IMPRESSIVE resume so relevant to this task), a director at the former, observed, “Achieving an aviation sector with no climate impact is one of society’s biggest challenges. Solving it will require a complex combination of technology, business, human behaviour and policy. We have assembled a world-class team of academics and industry experts to take on this challenge.”
Other team members include the Air Transportation Systems Lab at University College London and the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne. The AIA partnered with HRH The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative, The World Economic Forum, Cambridge Zero, MathWorks and SATAVIA, and is supported by industry players Rolls-Royce, Boeing, BP, Heathrow and Siemens Energy.
The simulator will model future scenarios to 2050 and calculate the resource requirements, including renewable electricity and land use, the climate impact, both CO2 and non-CO2, and the cost of flying. John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport noted, “The Aviation Impact Accelerator will play a vital role in highlighting the action required to achieve net zero aviation and support Heathrow to ensure 2019 is our year of ‘peak carbon’. The first priority is accelerated use of sustainable aviation fuel. Government can act to unlock SAF through a mandate stimulating supply, plus incentives to drive demand. The prize is a new British growth industry and UK leadership in the race to net zero.”
Its official launch will be at the COP26 hosted in Scotland in November.
 The Whittle Laboratory has its origins in Sir Frank Whittle and a number of his original team, from Cambridge, and who in 1937 invented the jet engine. In opening the Laboratory in 1973 the aim was to develop the technology which would underpin the emerging age of mass air travel. The Whittle Laboratory today is one of the world’s leading jet engine and power generation research laboratories.] It has partnered with Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Siemens for over 50 years; with Dyson for 8 years; and in the last few years with many of the new entrants into the aviation sector. The Whittle Laboratory has successfully translated hundreds of primary research ideas into industrial products and its research has been awarded the American Society of Mechanical Engineers highest honour, the ‘Gas Turbine Award’ 15 times. The current focus of the Laboratory is to accelerate the decarbonisation of flight.
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