Evaluating the climate impact of aviation emission scenarios towards the Paris agreement including COVID-19 effects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Volker Grewe
  • Arvind Gangoli Rao
  • Tomas Grönstedt
  • Carlos Xisto
  • Florian Linke
  • Joris Melkert
  • Jan Middel
  • Barbara Ohlenforst
  • Simon Christie
  • Sigrun Matthes
  • Katrin Dahlmann

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • German Aerospace Center (DLR)
  • Delft University of Technology
  • ECATS International Association
  • Chalmers Tekniska Hogskola
  • Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR)
  • University of Sheffield
  • Manchester Metropolitan University


Aviation is an important contributor to the global economy, satisfying society’s mobility needs. It contributes to climate change through CO2 and non-CO2 effects, including contrail-cirrus and ozone formation. There is currently significant interest in policies, regulations and research aiming to reduce aviation’s climate impact. Here we model the effect of these measures on global warming and perform a bottom-up analysis of potential technical improvements, challenging the assumptions of the targets for the sector with a number of scenarios up to 2100. We show that although the emissions targets for aviation are in line with the overall goals of the Paris Agreement, there is a high likelihood that the climate impact of aviation will not meet these goals. Our assessment includes feasible technological advancements and the availability of sustainable aviation fuels. This conclusion is robust for several COVID-19 recovery scenarios, including changes in travel behaviour.

Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).


Original languageEnglish
Article number3841
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jun 2021