NS  Vol.5 No.1 A , January 2013
Reducing consumption to avert catastrophic global climate change: The case of aviation
Author(s) Philip Cafaro*
ABSTRACT

Avoiding potentially catastrophic global climate change is a moral imperative, demanding significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from all important transport sectors, including aviation. However, because passenger flights and freight traffic are increasing much faster than efficiency improvements, the aviation sector will not be able to reduce emissions, or even stabilize them at current levels, without direct, forceful action to reduce demand. This paper reviews the ethical principles and empirical realities supporting the case for reducing worldwide aviation traffic. It argues that most passenger air travel and air freight shipping represents unnecessary luxury consumption, which responsible moral agents should willingly reduce in order to mitigate global climate change. It considers several mechanisms for doing so, and contends that they may succeed, but only if combined with an explicit recognition and binding commitment that for the foreseeable future, aviation must be a slow-growth or no-growth sector of the world economy.


Cite this paper
Cafaro, P. (2013) Reducing consumption to avert catastrophic global climate change: The case of aviation. Natural Science, 5, 99-105. doi: 10.4236/ns.2013.51A016.
References
[1]   Macintosh, A. and Wallace, L. (2009) International aviation emissions to 2025: Can emissions be stabilized without restricting demand? Energy Policy, 37, 264-273. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2008.08.029

[2]   Airbus (2009) Flying smart and thinking big: Global market forecast, 2009-2028.

[3]   Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) Climate change 2007: Mitigation report.

[4]   Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) Climate change 2007: Mitigation report: Summary for policymakers.

[5]   Hansen, J., et al. (2008) Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim? Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2, 217-231. doi:10.2174/1874282300802010217

[6]   Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) Climate change 2007: Synthesis report.

[7]   Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1999) Aviation and the global atmosphere. Summary for Policymakers, Section 4.8.

[8]   Lee, D., et al. (2009) Aviation and global climate change in the 21st century. Atmospheric Environment, 43, 3520-3537. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.04.024

[9]   Whitelegg, J. (2000) Aviation: The social, economic, and environmental impact of flying. Ashden Trust, London.

[10]   Brown, D., et al. (2007) White paper on the ethical dimensions of climate change. Rock Ethics Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

[11]   Dean Moore, K. and Nelson, M., Eds. (2010) Moral ground: Ethical action for a planet in peril. Trinity University Press, San Antonio.

[12]   Arnold, D., Ed. (2011) The ethics of climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

[13]   Caney, S. (2011) Climate change, energy rights and equality. In: Arnold, D., Ed., The Ethics of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511732294.005

[14]   Gardiner, S. (2011) A perfect moral storm: Intergenerational ethics, and the problem of moral corruption. In: Gardiner, S., Caney, S., Jamieson, D. and Shue, H., Eds., Climate Ethics: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press, New York.

[15]   Cafaro, P. (2011) Beyond business as usual: Alternative wedges to avoid catastrophic climate change and create sustainable societies. In: Arnold, D., Ed., The Ethics of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

[16]   Stern, N. (2007) The economics of climate change: The Stern review. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

[17]   Shue, H. (1993) Subsistence emissions and luxury emissions. Law & Policy, 15, 39-60. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9930.1993.tb00093.x

[18]   Alexander, S., Ed. (2009) Voluntary simplicity: The poetic alternative to consumer culture. Stead & Daughters, Whanganui.

[19]   Gambrel, J. and Cafaro, P. (2010) The virtue of simplicity. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 23, 85-108. doi:10.1007/s10806-009-9187-0

[20]   Segal, J. (2003) Graceful simplicity: The philosophy and politics of the alternative American Dream. University of California Press, Berkeley.

[21]   US Department of Transportation (2010) US air carrier traffic statistics. System passenger, system cargo, and system total revenue ton-miles. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. http://www.bts.gov/xml/air_traffic/src/datadisp.xml

[22]   Travel Industry Association of America (2007) Domestic travel market report, 2007 edition. Washington DC.

[23]   Rothengatter, W. (2010) Climate change and the contribution of transport: Basic facts and the role of aviation. Transportation Research Part D, 156, 5-13. doi:10.1016/j.trd.2009.07.005

[24]   Dargay, J., Menaz, B. and Cairns, S. (2006) Public attitudes towards aviation and climate change: Stage I: Desktop research. Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds.

[25]   Dikhanov, Y. (2005) Trends in global income distribution, 1970-2000, and scenarios for 2015. Occasional Paper, World Bank Human Development Report Office, Washington DC.

[26]   Petersen, J. (2007) Air freight industry—White paper. Supply Chain and Logistics Institute, Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology.

[27]   Huesemann, M. (2006) Can advances in science and technology prevent global warming? A critical review of limitations and challenges. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 11, 539-577. doi:10.1007/s11027-006-2166-0

[28]   Airbus (2007) Flying by nature: Global market forecast, 2007-2026.

[29]   World Bank (2002) Cities on the move—A world bank urban transport strategy review. Private Sector Development and Infrastructure Department, Washington DC.

[30]   Wit, R. and Dings, J. (2002) Economic incentives to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. CE Delft, study commissioned by the European Commission, Delft.

[31]   UN Environment Programme (2005) Environmentally sound transportation planning in Singapore. http://ekh.unep.org/?q=node/1144

[32]   Commission of the European Communities (2006) Proposal for a directive of the European parliament and of the council amending directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas trading within the community (Brussels). COM (2006) 818 Final, 2006/0304 (COD).

[33]   European Parliament (2008) Directive 2008/101/EC of the European parliament and the council of 19 November, 2008, amending directive 2003/87/EC, so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community.

[34]   Anger, A. and Kohler, J. (2010) Including aviation emissions in the EU ETS: Much ado about nothing? Transport Policy, 17, 38-46. doi:10.1016/j.tranpol.2009.10.010

[35]   Rosenthal, E. (2010) Britain curbing airport growth to aid climate. New York Times, 1 July 2010.

[36]   Clark, P. (2009) Airlines’ concerns grow of global tax support. Financial Times, 6 December 2009.

[37]   Czech, B. (2002) Shoveling fuel for a runaway train: Errant economists, shameful spenders, and a plan to stop them all. University of California Press, Berkeley.

[38]   Speth, G. (2009) The bridge at the edge of the world: Capitalism, the environment, and crossing from crisis to sustainability. Yale University Press, New Haven.

[39]   Shue, H. (2011) Human rights, climate change, and the trillionth ton. In: Arnold, D., Ed., The Ethics of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

[40]   Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) Climate change 2007: Mitigation report, technical summary.

[41]   US Department of Energy (2009) International energy outlook 2009. Energy Information Administration. Washington DC.

[42]   Bartlett, A. (2006) Reflections on sustainability, population growth and the environment. In: Keiner, M., Ed., The Future of Sustainability. Springer, Dordrecht. doi:10.1007/1-4020-4908-0_1

[43]   Daly, H. and Farley, J. (2011) Ecological economics: Principles and applications. 2nd Edition, Island Press, Washington DC.

[44]   Stiglitz, J., Sen, A. and Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009) Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress. http://www.stiglitz-sen-fitoussi.fr

 
 
Top