Why Is International Flight CO2 Emissions a Blind Spot in Climate Change Issues?

Why Is International Flight CO2 Emissions a Blind Spot in Climate Change Issues?

Today is hot, isn't it? It's said to be 20°C in Tokyo, hard to believe it's mid-February. Just yesterday, it was announced that the "Shikotsuko Ice Festival" had to cancel its ice sculpture display due to high temperatures. As a former Hokkaido resident, I find it unbelievable that ice sculptures would melt in mid-February. Considering such abnormal situations, shouldn't we be taking the issue of climate change more seriously? Moreover, it's essential to tackle it effectively.

We've often discussed how reducing luggage on airplanes can significantly cut CO2 emissions. In fact, using international flights and making a round trip to and from Japan averages a CO2 emission of 138kg (when reducing luggage by 20kg). This is the average for round trips from New York, Singapore, and Taipei, which amounts to the average CO2 emission of a Japanese person for 28 days (with daily emissions being 4.9kg). Anyone can calculate the CO2 emissions of flights using the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Carbon Emissions Calculator (ICEC). Note that while a passenger's CO2 emissions amount to 612kg, it's an inevitable part of traveling by plane.


Sources: ICAO "CARBON EMISSIONS CALCULATOR", National Institute for Environmental Studies "Data on Japan's Greenhouse Gas Emissions"

Incidentally, according to the Ministry of the Environment, the daily reduction amount for installing solar panels is 3.5kg, and for electric vehicles, it's 1.3kg. This should give you an idea of how significant the CO2 emissions from international flights are.

However, both governments and the media rarely address the CO2 emissions from international flights. This is likely because international flights do not belong to any one country and are therefore excluded from national CO2 reduction targets. A note in a report by the Ministry of the Environment states, "International bunker oils are fuels for international aviation and maritime transport. The CO2 emissions from the combustion of bunker oils account for about 4% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. However, due to the difficulty in allocating these emissions to specific countries, bunker oil emissions are currently excluded from national greenhouse gas reduction targets." For reference, Japan's share of global emissions is about 3%.

But as anyone can understand, climate change is not a problem of individual countries but a global issue. If we continue to ignore more effective CO2 reduction strategies, such as reducing luggage on international flights, due to adherence to national reduction targets, controlling climate change will be impossible. Instead of pretending to take action, shouldn't we pay more attention to CO2 reduction strategies that are scientifically proven to have significant effects and are easy to implement? I hope more people become aware of this fact.

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