Easy does it for greener skies
Professor JOHN GREEN FRAeS reports from the RAeS ‘Mitigating the climate impact of non-CO2 – Aviation’s low-hanging fruit’ virtual conference in March 2021.
On 23-24 March 2021 the Royal Aeronautical Society hosted a joint conference shared between its Greener by Design group and the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of DLR, the German Aerospace Centre at Oberpfaffenhofen. The event was organised by the Contrail Avoidance Group, an informal body formed after the GBD conference in 2015 by members of Greener by Design with members from DLR, NATS and UK universities. The rationale for the conference was that within the scientific community there was now fairly solid agreement that the non-CO2 effects of aviation are responsible for two thirds of its impact on climate. The strongest impact is from contrails and contrail cirrus, with the impact of NOX emissions at altitude also contributing. For both these impacts, the prospects of substantial reductions are real and potentially realisable within a far shorter timescale than the options for reducing CO2 emissions. Hence the ‘low hanging fruit’ in the title of the conference.
The conference was a virtual, on-line event divided between two afternoons. The presentations were grouped under the headings ‘The Science Base’ on the first day and ‘Mitigation Possibilities’ on the second. The event was chaired by Geoff Maynard, chairman of Greener by Design. In his opening remarks, he emphasised that, while the subject of aviation’s non-CO2 effects was potentially wide-ranging, he wanted the conference to concentrate on its theme of mitigating the climate impact of these effects.