Prepared by: University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
A sustainable aviation sector will require significant and strategic investment to mitigate its escalating impact on climate change. From a review of international best practices, initiatives, and research programs, this report presents an organized set of actionable strategies to reduce aviation’s impact on climate change. Recommended actions are divided into governmental, operational, and technological mitigation strategies. First, the impact of aviation on climate change is presented in the larger context of sustainable aviation. The various aviation emissions and their climate change effects are reviewed, highlighting their trade-offs and the current levels of scientific understanding, along with the need for a better understanding in specific areas. The “business-as-usual” projections demonstrate a continuous increase in the climate change impact of aviation as a result of the projected growth of the industry exceeding efficiency gains. Next, potential government actions are reviewed, including new regulations, incentives, and assistance. The necessary certification standards and market based measures will require significant global collaboration, with oversight from the International Civil Aviation Organization, in order to forge an international path forward. When combined with financial support, these actions will drive research and development toward the new technologies required to address climate change in an economically driven industry. Subsequently, a number of operational strategies are reviewed with the goal of improving the gate to gate efficiency of flight operations. Strategies are considered in the areas of air traffic management, ramp and taxi operations, continuous decent, en-route cruise, and flight mission design. Finally, the advanced technologies representing the most promising investment opportunities are categorized and reviewed. These technologies have the greatest potential for climate change mitigation and aim to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry. Ultimately, the Canadian aviation sector (including government, industry, and academia) must take urgent and significant action to address its impact on climate change, while responsibly meeting the growing demands for air transport and, in turn, improving the quality of life of all Canadians for the foreseeable future.