Airports urge governments to endorse aviation industry position in climate change negotiations
Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World
Fri 6 Nov 2009 – At the ACI World Annual General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, airports have voted to support an ACI Resolution urging governments to back the global sectoral approach jointly proposed by the aviation industry on action to reduce its impact on climate change. The resolution also called on governments to endorse ICAO’s Programme of Action on International Aviation and Climate Change at the forthcoming COP 15 summit in Copenhagen. Alexander ter Kuile, outgoing Secretary General of CANSO, the trade body representing air navigation service organizations, told the Assembly that an ‘Aviation Industry Council’ should be established to coordinate all global aviation sectors and raise the performance of the aviation system, citing the industry’s common position on climate change action as an example of what could be achieved.
Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World, said: “Aviation has made tremendous progress in reducing its carbon footprint. And we have worked diligently to show that our industry, more than many others, is taking a systematic approach to reducing fuel consumption.
“We are working with our airline and air traffic management partners to be more efficient in our processes and management of airside operations. And through our joint industry association, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), we have presented a strong case for reducing promoting a global sectoral approach, which will be carried forward by ICAO.”
Gittens said that airports had to work closely with the communities they serve and therefore noise and local air quality were also priority issues that had to be managed more efficiently. She said ACI representatives and airports were regularly participating on the ICAO CAEP working group “to make our voice heard on reducing noise and emissions.”
She added: “Our Environment Standing Committee has produced a new manual on managing greenhouse gases and is preparing a compendium of environmental best practices that can be used by all airports, large and small. We intend to progress steadily, working closely with our communities to ensure a sustainable future for our industry.”
Greg Principato, President of ACI North America Region, described the programme his team has launched to encourage airports in the US and Canada. It includes 13 suggested actions, including the implementation of environmental management systems by 2014 for large airports, 2016 for medium airports and 2019 for small airports. He encouraged attendees to consult the new Sustainable Aviation Guideline Alliance (SAGA) database which consolidates existing practices into a searchable resource with supporting information.
Other speakers addressed the need for airports to measure their sustainable efforts and build trust with stakeholders through transparent communication. Tim Johnson of the Aviation Environment Federation emphasized the importance of sustainability reporting in which airports should build constructive dialogue, involve employees in the bigger picture and show communities where they are matching community aspirations.
CANSO’s Alexander ter Kuile told delegates that CANSO had benefitted from building strong relationships with its customers, the airlines. He said that such a cooperative approach would need to go much further if the future sustainability of the aviation system was to be ensured, and he challenged the audience to consider themselves not as airport managers but as ‘aviation system managers’.
He accused the industry of short-termism and said there was too much tension between the airlines, the airports, the ANSPs, the manufacturers. “It seems that each one of us is trying to outdo the other. There is too much ‘take’ and not enough ‘give’ to keep our aviation system in equilibrium,” he stated.
“For too long, our industry has acted in silos, its thinking bottled up in individual sectors. Only on the subject of environment have we recently seen a semblance of collective wisdom – and it is reaping dividends. A few weeks ago Mr Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, commended the aviation industry for its collective response to climate change. Our aviation sectors reached a common position on climate change as a result of our collaboration in ATAG, our industry platform where we exchange views and reach consensus.
“To deliver system performance, airports, airlines and ANSPs must broaden and deepen this cooperation so that it extends across all industry subjects – safety, security, operations, economic sustainability, and especially state policies and regulations.
He invited airports to join an ‘Aviation Industry Council’ to “push for collaborative strategic thinking at every level of our industry – nationally, regionally and globally.” Only when the aviation system is at the heart of decision-making, he argued, “will we know that the future of our industry, and the integrity of our system, is secure.”