Whilst airlines may not be the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases (2-4%), this figure will rise significantly if action is not taken. Global urbanisation means we now have more than 400 cities with populations over 1m, in a system already served by 1700 active airlines across 44,000 airports. These airports are increasingly important hubs and the burgeoning size and interconnectivity of cities, especially in Africa, China and India, can only worsen the damage caused by airlines.
But this growth also represents vast commercial potential for the aviation industry and serves to strengthen its opposition to change. Sector-based interest organisations (in this case airlines) and national government representatives are almost always the biggest threat to attempts to solve the issue of climate change. The stronghold of lobbyists in Washington (a total of about 25,000) ensures that commercial interests influence decision makers in both Congress and Senate, drastically curbing the impact of environmental concerns.
True to form, the voices of the aviation industry were heard the loudest after the EU ruled against them. In a letter to the EU that was undoubtedly the result of pressure from lobbyists, Hillary Clinton criticised the ETS and portrayed Europe’s forward-thinking approach as a sign of its increasing isolation.
This marks a sad departure from the approach taken by her husband, Bill Clinton, whose Climate Initiative encouraged airlines to work together with city airports to build more efficient (and therefore sustainable) transportation hubs. His C 40 network, along with the European Committee of Regions, is working on new agreements between governors and mayors in Europe, India, US and China. Cities there are beginning to build new networks and sustainable strategies, including the use of public-private partnerships. Read more about Landstrips and Sustainable development at http://bit.ly/M7eUjq