WEO Week: Sectoral transitions to new energy industries
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Aviation

Despite slackening growth in 2017-2018, demand is expected to remain strong in the future. Meanwhile, impressive efficiency improvements achieved since 2000 also show signs of slowing down.

Aviation Jpg

Key findings

Evolution of aviation activity in selected countries in early 2020

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Global aviation activity declined by a staggering amount in 2020...

As a consequence of global lockdown measures due to Covid-19 in early 2020, mobility – 57% of global oil demand – declined at an unprecedented scale. As lockdowns spread, global aviation activity had declined to a staggering 60% by the end of March 2020.

Energy intensity of passenger aviation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030

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... but for years global aviation activity has been growing rapidly

Aviation emissions rose rapidly, at an average annual rate of 2.0% during 2000-19, with 5% average yearly rises in total commercial passenger flight activity since 2000. As most (>99.5%) aviation relies on jet kerosene, and as most jet kerosene (>85%) is used by commercial passenger aviation, the gap between these two metrics is largely explained by operational and technical efficiency measures adopted by commercial airlines, including new aircraft purchases. The energy intensity of commercial passenger aviation has decreased 2.8% per year on average, but improvements have slackened over time, and they must be maintained to limit fuel combustion to volumes at which SAFs – low-carbon alternatives to fossil-based jet kerosene – can power commercial aircraft. Near to mid-term priorities include implementing fiscal and regulatory measures that promote exploitation of operational and technical efficiency and managing the investment risks. These risks exist for developing and deploying clean sheet airframes, new engines and propulsion systems, and for production low-lifecycle GHG-emissions SAF.