Simulation and evaluation of sustainable climate trajectories for aviation

Planès, T., Delbecq, S., Pommier-Budinger, V., & Bénard, E. (2021). Simulation and evaluation of sustainable climate trajectories for aviation. Journal of Environmental Management, 295, 113079. Simulation and evaluation of sustainable climate trajectories for aviation

In 2019, aviation was responsible for 2.6% of world CO2 emissions as well as additional climate impacts such as contrails. Like all industrial sectors, the aviation sector must implement measures to reduce its climate impact. This paper focuses on the simulation and evaluation of climate scenarios for air transport. For this purpose, a specific tool (CAST for “Climate and Aviation – Sustainable Trajectories”) has been developed at ISAE-SUPAERO. This tool follows a methodology for the assessment of climate impacts adapted to aviation. Firstly, models for the main levers of action, such as air traffic, aircraft energy consumption and energy decarbonization, are provided using trend projections from historical data or assumptions from the literature. Second, the evaluation of scenarios is based on aviation carbon budgets, which are also extended to non-CO2 effects using the concept of GWP.


Several scenario analyses are performed in this paper using CAST allowing different conclusions to be drawn. For instance, the modelling of the scenarios based on the more recent ATAG (Air Transport Action Group) commitments shows that aviation would consume 6.5% of the world carbon budget for +1.5°C. Some illustrative scenarios are also proposed. By allocating 2.6% of the world carbon budget to aviation, it is shown that air transport is compatible with a +2°C trajectory when the annual growth rate of air traffic varies between -1.8% and +2.9%, depending on the technological improvements considered. However, using the same methodology for a +1.5°C trajectory shows that a drastic decrease in air traffic is necessary. Lastly, analyses including non-CO2 effects emphasize the importance of implementing specific strategies for mitigating contrails.