For Immediate Release
February 22, 2000
Contact: Jim Berard
(202) 225-6260

Oberstar: GAO Study Links Aircraft Emissions to Global Warming

Report says jet exhaust accounts for a "potentially significant
and growing" portion of greenhouse gases

WASHINGTON—A new report from the General Accounting Office indicates that commercial jet aviation makes a significant contribution to the problem of global warming. The study further warns that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can be expected to increase as commercial jet travel continues to grow worldwide.

The report was released today by Rep. James L. Oberstar (Minn.), Ranking Democratic Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The GAO study was done at Oberstar’s request.

In his request, Oberstar pointed out that aviation is the fastest-growing segment of the transportation industry, growing at a rate of some five percent annually, and this has brought with it an increasing concern over aviation’s impact on the environment.

"On the one hand, the industry’s growth has created concerns about noise, air, and water pollution. On the other hand, environmental concerns have increased the time and cost of development and imposed restrictions on flight patterns, airport use, and airport capacity," Oberstar wrote.

The GAO found that, in the United States, aviation emissions accounted for about three percent of the greenhouse gases and other emissions that contribute to the global warming phenomenon. While this percentage is small in relative terms—other transportation sources contribute 23 percent, and other industrial emissions account for 41 percent—aviation emissions are potentially significant for a number of reasons:


The report recommended further research into the impact of jet exhaust on the global atmosphere to help guide the development of new aircraft engine technology. It also called upon governments to reduce emissions through improved air traffic control and regulatory and economic incentives.

The report released today is the first in a series of studies on the environmental impact of aviation stemming from Oberstar’s request.

Text of the report (GAO/RCED-00-57) is available on line at


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