Our December 2021 Aviation Emissions Report takes a look at how Omicron is starting to affect emissions from some countries and how the overall 2021 emissions picture compares against previous years

The arrival of the Omicron variant late last year led governments, especially in Europe, to try to stop the spread of the new variant by quickly imposing new travel restrictions. In response, airlines had to swiftly adjust their network, cancelling thousands of scheduled flights worldwide in late December, severely impacting passengers’ travel plans. Despite these new restrictions, December 2021 experienced overall global growth in the number of flights; our Emissions Report takes a look at how this flight activity translated into overall emissions.

Emissions Report Dec 2021 UK Focus.png Focus market on this month's report: United Kingdom

Highlights from this months’ report include:

  • Total global emissions estimated at 43m tonnes, with two-thirds not covered by a major compliance scheme such as CORSIA or EU-ETS.
  • By the end of 2021, 20 out of the 25 largest markets by total emission were participating in a major compliance scheme such as CORSIA or EU-ETS to off-set their CO2 emissions.
  • Despite all flight cancelations, of the largest 25 top emitting countries in December 2021, only China and Indonesia experienced an overall reduction in emissions – -10% and -20% respectively, compared to same period last year.
  • On the other hand, flight emissions from the remaining 23 countries grew significantly compared to 2020, in some cases a triple digit increase such as Italy (232%), Spain and Canary Islands (163%), and Germany (162%)
  • From the largest 25 top emitting countries in 2021, Greece’s CO2 emissions grew by 82% compared to 2020 levels (the highest growth by far), though is still 31% lower compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
  • Spotlight on the UK – the 6th largest source of global aviation emissions in 2021, generating 9.9m tonnes of CO2, 16% down on 2020 levels and 70% lower than 2019 pre-pandemic levels. The main source of 2021 CO2 emissions is still intracontinental / European services, though Intercontinental and domestic services have increased in percentage contribution terms compared to the previous 3 years.
  • According to RDC’s CARE Index, a proprietary ranking of operational sustainability, the 10 most efficient routes out of the UK were operated by ULCC Wizz Air on a A321neo to 4 destinations in Europe: BUD, FCP, KTW, and WAW.
  • In December 2021, the top 25 European carriers presented an overall higher CARE Index compared to the majority of North American and Asian carriers.

Download this month's report here

Banner image by Matthias Heyde on Unsplash


More news