Airbus to seek customer airline support as it becomes ambassador for international reforestation project
Mon 5 Sept 2011 – Airbus has become an ‘ambassador’ of the newly founded ‘Global Restoration Council and Coalition’, lead by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. Launched at last week’s ‘Bonn Challenge’ international reforestation summit held in Germany, the aim of the project is to reforest 15%, or around 150 million hectares, of the degraded forests worldwide by 2020. As part of its role, Airbus will approach its airline customers to gain their support for the council and enlarge its publicity. Compared to aviation’s 2-3% contribution, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2007 that deforestation, in addition to biodiversity loss, accounted for a 20% share of global CO2 emissions produced by human activity, although more recent studies have concluded this may be an overestimate.
Since 2008, Airbus has been working with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to promote ‘The Green Wave’ initiative, which educates young people around the world on the role of biodiversity. The Airbus Corporate Foundation also supports biodiversity projects in Europe, China, Japan, India and the United States.
At the summit in Bonn, Airbus Executive Vice President Operations Günter Butschek said the aircraft manufacturer was also investing $2 billion each year in new technologies to improve the eco-efficiency of aviation. “It is clear that the 70% reduction in aircraft emissions and the 75% reduction in noise achieved over the last 40 years are just the beginning,” he added. “Airbus stands firmly – and actively – behind the IATA targets of achieving carbon neutral growth for the industry by 2020 and a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.”
Participants in the ‘Bonn Challenge’ summit included the German Federal Environment Minister Dr Norbert Röttgen, his counterparts from India, El Salvador, Norway and Poland, as well as representatives from the WWF, the CBD, the World Bank and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Council will be facilitated by the World Resources Institute (WRI), a Washington, DC-based environmental think tank, and the IUCN.
“Restoring 150 million hectares of degraded lands represents an exciting and largely untapped opportunity to create more jobs and economic growth, while also protecting our climate,” said Göran Persson, who is also a member of WRI’s board of directors. “I am delighted to be announcing this new Council to raise attention and generate action to strengthen our forests, our economies, our climate and our lives. I look forward to working with world leaders, businesses and other colleagues in an effort that will send a strong signal that forest and land restoration must be pursued globally.”
A new assessment carried out by WRI, the South Dakota State University and IUCN on behalf of the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration has identified that more than 2 billion hectares – an area larger than South America – of the world’s deforested and degraded lands are available for restoration, nearly doubling previous estimates.
Restoring 150 million hectares would be a significant contribution, said WRI, to implementing the CBD’s Target 15 and the UNFCCC REDD-plus agreement. The former calls for the restoration of at least 15% of degraded ecosystems by 2020, with the goal of the latter being to slow, halt and reverse forest cover and carbon loss, including through the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.