In January, we reviewed CO2 emissions from European flights in 2020 compared to 2019. Now, following this summer’s strong traffic recovery, we come back to the subject, comparing the first eight months of 2021 with the same period in 2019.
Restrictions on short-haul and long-haul travel have continued from 2020 into 2021 but, mostly for short-haul, this summer there has been some significant relaxation. Following global standards, all CO₂ emissions from a flight are assigned to the country of departure, so here we report just on departing flights: there were 52.7% fewer departing flights so far this year than in the same period in 2019, in the countries shown on the map.
CO2 emissions were down a little more than flights: 56.3% lower than in January-August 2019. The decline in CO2 is deeper than that of flight departures because medium- and long-haul, which emit more CO2, have recovered more slowly than short-haul. For example, within that overall 52.7% decline in flights, medium-haul flights are down 57%, while very short-haul (which are often domestic) are down only 40%.
The map shows that there remains considerable variation between countries in their CO2 emissions. In the extreme cases, Luxembourg’s critical role in the global cargo network means that its CO2 emissions are around the same as 2019, while Finland, at the other extreme, has low emissions mostly due to having nearly the weakest flight recovery of all (departing flights still down by 69% year-to-date, just ahead of the UK).
Download this EUROCONTROL Data Snapshot and dataset below.
Technical Bits: Flight data from EUROCONTROL Central Route Charges Office (CRCO). As Israel, Morocco and Ukraine are not integrated in the multilateral route charges system they cannot yet be shown. The efforts made by air traffic management to optimize the network and reduce emissions are largely hidden by these much larger COVID-related changes. Our distance categories include “medium haul” 1500-4000km, and “very short haul” at less than 500km.