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Climate Adaptation

Cleaning Up Airline Travel Is Going to Be Really Expensive

Aviation is one of the hardest industries to wean off fossil fuels.

An Airbus A319 plane, operated by Delta Airlines, departs Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) in Morrisville, North Carolina.
An Airbus A319 plane, operated by Delta Airlines, departs Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) in Morrisville, North Carolina.Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

We’re probably going to have to fly less. And when we do board a plane, it’s going to cost more — a lot more, one way or another. 

Those are the conclusions of a new report by the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation, which analyzed how the airline industry could cut emissions in line with global climate goals. People will “still be able to fly in the future and do so with a clean conscience,” said Brandon Graver, a co-author of the study and a senior aviation researcher at the organization. “But it’s going to be expensive, and we need to have discussions on who is going to pay for that.”