‘I have a theory about air travel, by the way. I think we’ve reached the peak of air travel and that it will go into decline for three reasons.
One is that it will become associated with the spread of diseases people will be unwilling to expose themselves to just to go on holiday. People will either drive somewhere or they’ll stay home.
Two, there will be a few more spectacular terrorist incidents, and we all remember the effect that had on air travel last time.
Three, sooner or later governments are going to have to tackle the fact that air travel is the hugest producer of pollutants we have. There’s been a big debate going on in England about a wind farm they’re thinking of building in the north of the country, and the argument for it is that it would prevent 250,000 tons of pollutants going into the air per year.
That sounds good until you realise that one plane doing a London to Miami route for a year releases half a million tons of pollutants into the atmosphere per year.’
Read the full interview with ‘Eno: Tomorrow’s Perfect Optimist’ by Kristine McKenna in the latest edition of Arthur.
By 2020, the world aircraft fleet is expected to double in size.
While the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3% between 1990 and 2002, carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation increased by almost 70%
In 2002, CO2 from international aviation amounted to about 12% of total national transport emissions. But the full impact is far greater.
Aircraft emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) form ozone when emitted at cruise altitudes. They trigger the formation of condensation trails and cirrus clouds, which also add to global warming.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1999, estimated the total impact of aviation to be two or four times greater than from its CO2 emissions alone.
To put the problem into perspective, a return flight for every two passengers from London to New York produces about as much CO2 as an average European domestic car does in a whole year.
Environment for Europeans [EC. No 20. June 2005]
The number of passengers passing through UK airports is predicted to rise from 180 million to 480 million a year by 2030, and it’s hard to square that with the aim of cutting our carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 – even allowing for incremental improvements in aircraft efficiency, tighter routing patterns and so on.
Green Futures Special Briefing. May/June 2005
'Concerns about climate change were nothing to do with him. He proudly declared that Ryanair intended to increase its emissions of carbon dioxide, adding that if his customers were worried about the environment, his advice was straight-forward: "Sell your car and walk."
Michael O'Leary, owner of Ryanair. The Guardian profile (24.6.05)