Thu 24 Apr 2008 - Aviation industry leaders gathered at the Aviation and Environment Summit in Geneva this week to discuss aviation and the environment. The centrepiece was the joint signing of a commitment on climate change action by aircraft and engine makers, together with representatives of trade organizations representing airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and aerospace manufacturers.
The agreement is based on a four-pillar approach to limit increases in aviation GHG emissions put forward by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and agreed last year at the 2007 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly. It envisages a long-term aim of achieving carbon-neutral growth on the way to what IATA hopes will be a carbon-free industry within 50 years.
The four-pronged strategy encompasses investment in new technology; more effective aircraft operations; air traffic management and infrastructure improvements; and the implementation of “positive economic instruments”.
The declaration called on governments to support these efforts by supporting and co-financing research and development on ‘green’ technology, and to take “urgent measures” to improve airspace design, air traffic management infrastructure and “procedures for approving needed airport development”. It also called for the development and implementation of a “global, equitable and stable emissions management framework for aviation through ICAO, in line with the UN roadmap agreed in Bali December 2007”.
Dr Philippe Rochat, Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), an association that represents the industry on environmental issues and organizer of the Summit, said: “The declaration is not just fine words. For the first time, the industry can agree on a set of common goals and a pathway to achieve them. It sends a signal that we are devoting the energy, investment and sheer determination to ensure the industry has a sustainable future.”
The Director General of Airports Council International (ACI), Robert J Aaronson commented: “Over 300 airports have signed up to the goals of this landmark industry document, and airport authorities worldwide are already engaged in a broad spectrum of active programmes that address carbon emissions, noise and local air quality.”
Representing around 240 of the world’s airlines, IATA’s Director General and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani, said: “This declaration is a great step. Environmental responsibility is a core promise of the aviation industry, alongside safety and security. We have taken this responsibility seriously long before Kyoto with impressive results – a 70% improvement in fuel efficiency over the last four decades. All the industry partners have a common goal: to keep aviation as a benchmark of environmental responsibility for others to follow.
“Today’s commitment is unique. What other industry is so united in its approach to environment?
“But governments must play their part if we are truly to succeed. They must invest more effectively in environmental technologies – from alternative fuels to radical dynamics. And they need to match our efforts at efficiency – such as implementing next generation traffic management systems globally. A Single European Sky could save 12 million tonnes of CO2 at a stroke.”
The declaration made no formal attempt to quantify specific emission reduction targets, although IATA has previously set its sights on the industry achieving a 25% fuel efficiency saving by 2020. The aerospace industry, under its ACARE targets, has committed to reduce fuel consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions, by 50% on new aircraft entering service from 2020, based on a comparison with 2000.