Transition policies for climatically sustainable aviation

June 2021
Taylor & Francis Online
Transport Reviews

Emissions from aviation are expected to grow. With evidence that the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation is an inadequate mitigation mechanism, there is interest in upscaling the sector’s climate-related policies. This paper reviews potential aviation emissions mitigation policies against the background of emerging complexities, such as the large share of radiative forcing not covered under any policy agreement, as well as highly skewed demand distributions. In total, 30 voluntary, market-based and regulatory “transition policies” are identified and evaluated with regard to their potential to reduce emissions from air passenger transport and to initiate the transition to new fuels and propulsion technologies. The paper also discusses the potential public acceptance of differing policies. It concludes that the removal of fossil fuel and related subsidies represents a priority, supported by policy mixes comprising levies (CO2, frequent fliers, premium classes) and a feed-in quota for definitively established sustainable aviation fuels. To reduce flight emissions is feasible in principle, but will require policy initiatives at the national level or at the level of regional jurisdictions such as the European Union.