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CO2 emissions from international aviation by scenario 1990-2050

According to a recent study, it was estimated that the environmental impact of international aviation amounted to 641 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2019. Even after the coronavirus (COVID-19) shock, by 2050 the emission levels under the current policy projection with a low emission scenario will be twice as large as the current CO2 emissions.

Carbon dioxide emissions level from international aviation between 1990 and 2050, by scenario (in million metric tons of CO2 equivalent)*

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Release date

July 2020



Survey time period

1991 to 2017

Supplementary notes

* Values described here are relevant for international aviation only. It does not incorporate CO2 emissions from domestic flights.
Values for 2018 and 2019 were extrapolated by multiplying emissions from 2017 with the average growth rate between 2014 and 2017.
Two scenarios were developed to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on international aviation CO2 emissions:
The Low emission scenario assumes a 60 percent decline in international aviation emissions in 2020 compared to 2019 levels. Low emission prediction assumes that emission levels will be back at 2019 levels by roughly 2024. Besides, this incorporates high optimistic technology usage to abate emissions better.
The High emission scenario assumes a 45 percent decline in international aviation in 2020 compared to 2019. Accordingly, aviation emissions will be back at 2019 levels by 2022. This scenario incorporates a low technology improvements, in other words pessimistic scenario for the environmental protection.

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