This sector encompasses the transportation (both domestic and international) of passengers only. Cargo by plane is included in the other transport sector. The main source of GHGs for this sector is the combustion of fossil fuels in airplane engines.
The activities of the aviation passenger sector were about 4.3 trillion revenue passenger kilometers in 2010. Significant growth is expected because of rising wealth in emerging economies and an increase in aviation tourism transport (IPCC 2014a; IEA 2012a). Activities in the passenger aviation sector are expected to increase to 7.8 trillion revenue passenger kilometers by 2050, up to 82 percent.
In 2010, the aviation sector emitted about 755 Mt of CO2 (tank to wheel). In 2050, this is expected to increase to 1,020 Mt, an increase of 35 percent. For large aircraft, there is currently no serious alternative to jet engines. Therefore, biofuels are expected to play an important part in reducing the carbon intensity of aviation (IPCC 2014a). However, since airplanes emit greenhouse gases at high altitudes, the impact of biofuels on global warming cannot be considered zero. Taking this into account and due to limitations of reduction options, the aviation sector is expected to have an increased share in global GHG emissions in the future (IEA 2012a).
As can be seen in Figure I.13, the number of revenue passenger kilometers in aviation is expected to almost double between 2011 and 2050. Total emissions increase as well, though at a lower rate, resulting in a carbon intensity pathway of 26 percent lower in 2050 compared to 2010.
Figure I.11 Air passenger transport will increase by 82 percent in kilometers traveled, but with a carbon intensity pathway of 26 percent
Source: based on IEA (2014).