Evaluating Climate Impacts of the Aviation Sector: A MCA-Analysis

Evaluating Climate Impacts of the Aviation Sector: A MCA-Analysis


A Bernardini, A Heemeryck, E Van Hoeck, T van Lier and C Macharis,Free University of Brussels, BE



This paper presents the evaluation of climate policy options on the aviation sector by using a multi criteria analysis (MCA). The Belgian aviation market has a very specific position within Europe due to its geographical situation; in the middle of the so-called FLAP area which is delimited by four of the five main airports of Europe: Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris. This implies that the number of overflights through Belgian airspace is relatively high and could become even more important due to the sector growth and potential route adaptations (according to Statfor-Eurocontrol, the adoption of shorter routes could increase overflights above the Belgian territory by 10%). On the one hand the impacts of the Belgian aviation sector on global climate change is relatively small compared to other sectors or other countries but on the other hand the concentration of flights over the Belgian territory could have a large influence on the country level because of regional climate impacts due to contrails, cirrus formation and changes in the ozone concentration. A focus for Belgian policy makers could therefore be to reduce the impacts from transit aviation, especially via operational measures targeting non-CO2 gases. In this context, the ABC impacts research project (Aviation and the Belgian Climate policy: integration options and impacts) aims at providing Belgian stakeholders with a detailed and integrated analysis of issues related to the inclusion of international air transport into European and/or international climate policy. This is done by analyzing the different climate policy options (as well as their consequences on a Belgian level) and by providing an in-depth study of the technical, economic and climate change characteristics of the aviation sector. In order to evaluate the different climate policy options that can be implemented, a multi-criteria analysis (MCA) is used. A MCA makes it possible to compare different policy options, to organize data, to make the decision process more transparent and to support the decision makers. It is a decision making support tool, using a structured approach to determine overall preferences among alternative options. In the ABC project, first the potential measures are specified and next the corresponding indicators are identified. Also appropriate scenarios are selected in order to assess the impact of the measures over an appropriate time horizon. An advantage of the MCA over a Cost-Benefit Analysis is that the indicators used in a MCA do not necessarily need to be measurable in monetary terms, but are often based on the quantitative analysis of a wide range of qualitative impact categories and criteria. The MCA method thus recognizes the fact that a variety of both monetary and non-monetary objectives may influence policy decisions. Using the MCA it than becomes possible to compare and rank the different outcomes. ETPR 8 Achieving Carbon Reduction Targets 2 "As the UK's only Hub airport, Heathrow is also its busiest handling over 66 Million passengers a year. The key driver for passengers is that they need to be on a scheduled flight which will depart at a specific time. The aviation environment is both controlled and inflexible in how flights arrive and depart as landing, take-off and gates are carefully managed; simply planes don't wait for passengers!

With this in mind, there is a level of anxiety already programmed in to passengers and therefore they will make early decisions regarding their choice of travel mode to the airport. This decision is likely to be made at the time of booking a flight or even before, and in some instances be a deciding factor on which flight or even which airport is chosen.

How people travel to the airport can be broken down into modes. These are grouped into two clear categories; Private vehicle (including Taxi) and public transport (rail, tube and bus & coach). Heathrow today has a public transport mode share of 41.2% which is one of the highest in Europe (behind Stansted and Zurich). This has continued to rise over the years and is supported with continued improvements to the network including new public transport infrastructure to Terminal 5.

Looking to the future, there is still capacity to grow public transport mode share and make best use of road infrastructure to make the journey to the airport both more reliable and sustainable. Therefore, to change peoples behaviour we will need to understand the levers that influence mode choice and seek to introduce interventions aimed at challenging this behaviour.

I will investigate the four factors of time, price, convenience and culture and how these can influence mode choice. I will propose interventions at national, regional and local level which can influence these factors in favour of more sustainable travel and discuss how this can both improve the overall journey experience as well as reduce the impact of surface access travel on the environment.


Association for European Transport