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Airline emissions still a burning issue

Fuel efficiency North AtlanticSAN FRANCSCO: November 17, 2015. Lufthansa, SAS, and British Airways are the least fuel-efficient airlines operating on the North Atlantic according to a new report timed to influence a crucial environment meeting of government leaders in Paris later this month.

The study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) compared the fuel efficiency, and resultant carbon output, of the top 20 airlines on transatlantic routes in 2014 and concluded that the three legacy airlines burned 44-51 percent more fuel per ASK than the Norwegian Air Shuttle.

The report acknowledges that the more modern the aircraft, the less the fuel burn. Not surprisingly, with the B787, NAS operates the most fuel-efficient aircraft in the world. BA and Lufthansa, on the other hand, continue to operate a fleet of ageing 747s although the study concluded that the "passenger load factor and freight carriage were found to be relatively less important" in terms of impact.

According to the ICCT, aircraft produced 700 million tonnes of CO2 in 2013 and aviation emissions are expected to triple by 2050 without regulatory constraint. The report notes that if global aviation was a country, it would rank 21st in terms of GDP, but 7th in terms of CO2 emissions - just behind Germany and ahead of South Korea.

Expressing surprise to see such large differences in fuel efficiency, Dan Rutherford, ICCT's program director for aviation and coauthor of the report commented: "The report reinforces the need for policies to reduce carbon emissions from international aviation, namely carbon pricing and aircraft efficiency standards."

The Paris 2015 UN climate change conference at Le Bourget from November 30 to December 11 is expected to produce a new and universal climate change agreement. It will also include discussions on how to incorporate aviation emissions into such a framework.

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