By Vijay Jayaraj
Indian low-cost airline IndiGo recently made headlines with its record-breaking order for Airbus passenger aircraft. The deal, valued at an estimated $50 billion, is the largest single order in Airbus history.
While the order for 500 A320neo aircraft is a major coup for Airbus, it has been described as a “setback” to climate protection. It is worth noting that Air India, another major airline, recently placed orders totaling $70 billion for 470 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, including 70 twin-aisle models.
These orders for 970 new aircraft from IndiGo and Air India are a sign of India’s growing economy and growing middle class. Air travel is closely linked to economic growth and these orders will help meet the subcontinent’s growing demand.
But the orders are another example of emerging economic powerhouses like India and China openly opposing global climate madness and its calls to reduce fossil fuel emissions.
Aviation Industry and Emissions
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has set numerous targets for reducing CO2 emissions by 2050. According to IATA, “At the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting on October 4, 2021 in Boston, USA, a resolution was adopted by IATA member airlines, committing them to help reduce net CO2 emissions from their airlines by 2050 Operating from zero.”
Achieving this goal requires a significant reduction in emissions. It’s unclear whether IndiGo’s new aircraft deal will help meet IATA’s emissions targets. The A320neo is more fuel efficient than previous models, but still generates significant emissions.
According to Airbus, the A320neo emits 20% less CO2 than the A320ceo, its predecessor. However, this still means that each A320neo emits around 100 tonnes of CO2 per year. That’s around 50,000 tons of new emissions per year on top of the emissions from IndiGo’s existing large fleet. That is significantly more than zero – net or not.
Paris Agreement and net zero mean nothing
Numerous leaders have set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that they believe will reverse moderate warming that they irrationally believe is dangerous. The Paris Agreement, for example, calls for global emissions to peak by 2030 and reach an ill-defined net zero by 2050. The agreement offers neither a reasonable way to achieve this goal nor a scientifically sound reason for doing so.
Signatories to the Paris Agreement include India and France, home countries of the aircraft buyers and Airbus respectively.
India is already the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and its aviation sector is one of the fastest growing in the world. With a growing population of already 1.4 billion people, the government is under pressure to offer citizens affordable air travel. As such, travel is unlikely to be restricted even if such emission reduction measures are required.
France is tackling climate change differently, banning short-haul flights within the country to cut emissions. The new bill will ban flights if a train journey of 2.5 hours or less is possible. The law met with mixed reactions. Environmentalists complained that it didn’t go far enough.
Now France has allowed Airbus to take record-breaking orders from IndiGo and Airbus. It is quite difficult to understand why France bans its own citizens from flying but allows the production of aircraft for short-haul flights in India.
That France – the site of the signing of the Paris Agreement – is allowing huge aircraft orders from high-emission countries illustrates the continued divergence of net-zero advocates from reality. Developing countries will continue to resist international climate goals as they become increasingly aware of economic issues.
This comment was first published by BizPac Review on June 23, 2023 and can be accessed here.
Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He holds a Masters in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK and is based in India
Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0