Aviation industry climate action report spotlights global projects undertaken to reduce carbon emissions
Thu 15 Oct 2015 – The industry coalition Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) has published a report to promote the sector’s sustainable development through case studies involving 100 carbon-reducing initiatives by over 400 organisations in 65 countries. Although it looks at the large step-change technological advances in new aircraft entering the global fleet, the ‘Aviation Climate Solutions’ report highlights smaller energy efficiency projects that ATAG Executive Director Michael Gill calls the marginal gains industry needs to make if it is to achieve its climate targets. Gill revealed at the report’s launch that the near-term goal of an average 1.5% annual efficiency improvement from 2009 to 2020 was currently tracking at 2.9%. However, he expected this to “normalise” over the next few years.
Areas of climate action covered in the report, which was launched during the industry’s Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, include the development of alternative fuels; operational efficiencies such as using lighter equipment on board and smarter ways of taking-off, flying and landing; the development of new technology; and systematic changes in airspace and navigation.
“Some actions are big, such as bringing a new aircraft to service, and some are smaller, but significant in their own way,” commented Gill. “This is a reflection of the aviation industry as a whole. It is also a reflection of what will be needed to tackle the climate challenge on a broader level. All parts of the economy and all parts of society have a role to play, with both small actions and large shifts in thinking.”
He told the Summit that it would be hard to maintain current efficiency levels and “very challenging” to reach the industry’s long-term goal of reducing net aviation emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels, and warned against potential marginal losses.
“We have to keep our performance as tight as it can be,” he said. “We have to empower our teams to identify opportunities for efficiency. We can’t let fluctuations in fuel prices delay long-term efficiency projects – and I am encouraged to see airline bosses generally viewing it this way.
“We have published this report for two reasons. The first is to demonstrate the sheer volume of action taking place worldwide. It should also be seen as a handbook – a ‘how-to’ guide for colleagues around the world who want to improve their efficiency and help in our global efforts to secure our sector’s licence to grow. We urge all airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers and partners to look through the report, identify opportunities and get working on cutting fuel use and emissions.”
In a foreword to the report, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said the ICAO and industry goal of carbon-neutral growth beyond 2020 was “a promising start and a contribution to climate science, which requires the world to reach carbon neutrality as soon as possible in the second half of this century. To achieve this in aviation, every measure from operational improvements to technological developments to market-based measures and alternative fuels are needed.”