Flights from Europe to the US will be slowed down by climate change

New study reveals that transatlantic flights from Europe to the US will be longer, more expensive and more polluting by 2100, due to climate change.

By 2100, flights from London to New York, as well as any other transatlantic flight from Europe to the United States, will be more expensive, longer and more polluting than today. This is due to climate change. In particular, due to the consequences the rise in global temperatures will cause on the jet stream, according to a study carried out by the University of Reading and published in the scientific magazine Environmental Research Letters.

Round-trip journeys will lengthen

UK researchers explain that the increase in atmospheric temperature, mostly in the Arctic region, will change the Atlantic jet stream from west to east, which will significantly increase. And the time saved in eastbound flights (towards Europe) won’t be enough to compensate the delay of westbound flights.


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©Bruce Bennett/Getty Images


“The bad news for passengers is that westbound flights will be battling against stronger headwinds,” said Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading. “Eastbound flights will be boosted by stronger tailwinds, but not enough to compensate for the longer westbound journeys. The net result is that round-trip journeys will significantly lengthen.”


Increased fuel consumption, costs and environmental impact

This will have both economic and environmental consequences: “This effect will increase the fuel costs to airlines, potentially raising ticket prices,” added Williams. “And it will worsen the environmental impacts of aviation”.


The study points out that increased round-trip journey time will lead to 2,000 extra hours of planes in the air every year, with $22 million extra in fuel costs and 70 million kg of CO2. Extra CO2 is the equivalent of the annual emissions of 7,000 households.


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©John Li/Getty Images

More eco-friendly flights, only after 2028

In the meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organization of the United Nations achieved a deal with the aviation industry after 6 months of negotiations. The deal includes the introduction of limits on airlines’ CO2 emissions. It’s the first time ever, since airplanes had not been included in any international climate change deals, such as the Paris Agreement, achieved at the end of COP21 in Paris last December.


The only problem is that the new rules would apply for all new airplanes delivered after 2028. In the meanwhile, the aviation industry will continue generating as much emissions as Germany every year. According to analysts, such figure could triple over the next decades.


Cover photo: ©Mario Tama/Getty Images

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