Better aircraft utilisation is one of the reasons for improved energy efficiency. The average number of passengers, and the average weight of cargo per flight, have both increased, lowering energy use per useful service delivered. Another driver of efficiency improvement is fleet renewal. The fuel intensity of new commercial jet aircraft fell 1.3% per year on average from 1968 to 2014, roughly doubling their efficiency.
Aviation energy efficiency needs to improve by more than 3% per year to 2040 to be in line with global climate goals. Some of the policy infrastructure to achieve this is in place. Under the Paris Agreement and various other frameworks, certain countries have set up targets for efficiency improvements in domestic aviation. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has put in place policies to improve aircraft efficiency and limit the growth in CO2 emissions of international flights. Further policy measures, such as carbon pricing and even more stringent efficiency standards, would further help put aviation back on track.
Last updated Nov 28, 2019
Energy intensity of international aviation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030
Global aviation activity is continuing to grow rapidly
CO2 emissions from aviation continue to rise, and accounted for around 2.5% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2018. While energy efficiency in aviation improved by 3.2% per year between 2000 and 2014, it slowed to less than 1% per year between 2014 and 2016. In the Sustainable Development Scenario, aviation energy efficiency needs to improve by more than 3% per year to 2040. With global aviation activity continuing to grow rapidly (+140% since 2000), further international policy measures, such as more stringent carbon pricing and efficiency standards, could help put aviation on track.