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Publication Detail
Modelling Emissions Reduction Strategies for Passenger Air Transport
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Wang B
  • Date awarded:
  • Supervisors:
    Schafer A,O'Sullivan A
  • Awarding institution:
    UCL (University College London)
  • Language:
  • Addresses:
    Andreas Schäfer
    University College London
    Energy Institute
    Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place
    WC1H 0NN
    United Kingdom
This dissertation aims to evaluate the potential for and the effectiveness of two strategies that could reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from passenger aviation. The two strategies consist of market-based measures (MBMs) and the substitution of high-speed rail (HSR) for air transport. To assess the first mitigation strategy an econometric, itinerary-based airfare model, which explicitly captures airline operating costs, is developed and estimated for different world regions. Based on the estimated cost pass-through elasticities, the impact of a carbon tax is tested for the European and Asia-Pacific markets. Because of the higher cost pass-through elasticity in the Asia-Pacific market, a carbon tax would lead to higher airfares, lower demand, and thus greater emissions reductions in the Asia-Pacific compared to the European market. For the second mitigation strategy, i.e. the HSR substitution for air transport, this dissertation takes China’s transportation network as a case study. In a first step, an empirical study explores how airline supply has already been affected by the introduction of HSR since 2008. The results show that the HSR substitution has led to operational CO2 emissions savings from aviation in the order of 6.52-7.44 million tonnes over the period 2009-2015, depending on assumptions on the electricity intensity of Chinese HSR trains. In a second step, the dissertation explores how the enhanced introduction of HSR may affect future aviation CO2 emissions. To accomplish this objective, the future demand for inter-city high-speed transportation between 2016 and 2050 and the mode shares of HSR and air travel are estimated with an econometric model. The projected aviation demand under the planned 2025 HSR network is then compared against the demand under the 2015 HSR network. The marginal net savings of lifecycle CO2 emissions resulting from the HSR substitution are calculated from the “avoided” emissions in aviation and the additional emissions generated from transporting the diverted demand by HSR. The results show that, if China continues decarbonizing its power generation sector and achieves zero-carbon power generation in 2050, the cumulative marginal net savings of CO2 emissions could be at 736-960 million tonnes, depending on assumptions on China’s future population, GDP per capita, and jet fuel prices. The annual average of this amount between 2016 and 2050 are equivalent to 39-50% of the 53.8 million tonnes CO2 emissions from domestic aviation in 2015.
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