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Australia Grounded planes amid the coronavirus pandemic will cut aviation emissions in half, says report

22:06  01 april  2020
22:06  01 april  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Australia's carbon emissions from air travel could be cut in half due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning 13.2 megatonnes of CO2 less in the air this year, according to a new study released today.

Under an extreme scenario — most Virgin and Qantas flights being grounded for nine months — the report by The Australia Institute said aviation emissions would be slashed by 56 percent.

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

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The Australia Institute is an independent think tank funded largely by donations that conducts public policy research on a range of issues including the environment.

"The economic impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry has been no doubt devastating," said Climate and Energy Program Director Richie Merzian.

"Even the three impact scenarios presented in the last month by the International Air Transport Association now appear to be optimistic."

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 global emissions from aviation in February and the first half of March 2020 are already lower than this time last year," Mr Merzian said.

"If the cuts to flights announced by Qantas and Virgin continue into spring, it would more than halve projected commercial aviation emissions in Australia."

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Passengers check in for a Qantas flight at Adelaide Airport on April 01, 2020 in Adelaide, Australia. The Australian government has introduced further restrictions on movement and gatherings in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Public gatherings are now limited to two people, while Australians are being urged to stay home unless absolutely necessary. New South Wales and Victoria have also enacted additional measures to allow police the power to fine people who breach the two-person outdoor gathering limit or leave their homes without a reasonable excuse. Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have all closed their borders to non-essential travellers and international arrivals into Australia are being sent to mandatory quarantine in hotels for 14 days. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images) © 2020 Getty Images ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Passengers check in for a Qantas flight at Adelaide Airport on April 01, 2020 in Adelaide, Australia. The Australian government has introduced further restrictions on movement and gatherings in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Public gatherings are now limited to two people, while Australians are being urged to stay home unless absolutely necessary. New South Wales and Victoria have also enacted additional measures to allow police the power to fine people who breach the two-person outdoor gathering limit or leave their homes without a reasonable excuse. Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have all closed their borders to non-essential travellers and international arrivals into Australia are being sent to mandatory quarantine in hotels for 14 days. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images) Australia's per capita emissions from air travel were some of the highest in the world — nearly double the United States and Europe combined, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

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"If global aviation were its own country, it would be the sixth-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world," Mr Merzian said.

Elsewhere, carbon emissions have toppled as coronavirus lockdowns disrupted multiple sectors.

China's carbon emissions fell by about 25 percent, or about 200 million tonnes of CO2, during February, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Mr Merzian said aviation downturn from coronavirus offered the opportunity for governments and airlines to honour the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), the United Nations agreement for carbon-neutral aviation.

He cited the report's findings that worldwide travel was set to decrease by 40 percent in 2020, and by 37 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, as reason to "use 2020 as the baseline year".

"Rather than just weathering the current outbreak with interim solutions, this could be the impetus we need to drive long-term change," Mr Merzian said.

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