A report released by the The Australia Institute said aviation emissions would be slashed by 56 per cent if most flights are grounded for the next 9 months.
Australia Institute analysis shows global emissions from aviation in February and the first half of March 2020 are already lower than this time last year. If the cuts to flights announced by Qantas and Virgin continue into Spring, it would more than halve annual aviation emissions in Australia.
Emissions from Australian commercial aviation could decrease by up to 13.2Mt CO2 in 2020 (56% decrease from 2019) under an extreme scenario of continual grounding of most Qantas and Virgin planes for 9 months.
The report said the reduction in emissions, based on International Air Transport Association (IATA) data, would likely become an underestimation as the pandemic continued.
“The economic impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry has been no doubt devastating,” said Climate and Energy Program Director Richie Merzian.
“Even the three impact scenarios presented in the last month by the International Air Transport Association now appear to be optimistic.
“With the travel and quarantine restrictions in place, there has been an increased demand for alternative solutions — services like teleconferencing system Zoom recorded more active users in the first two months of 2020 than in all of 2019.
“If we can work well together online now, perhaps it will permanently reduce the need for business travel and so emissions over the long term.”