Thu 28 Jan 2010 – Speaking at an Airbus A380 event in Geneva, IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani said that although the Copenhagen climate change conference had not delivered an agreement on international aviation emissions, the industry remained committed to its carbon targets and would work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to have them converted into national targets at the next ICAO Assembly in September this year. The aviation industry has pledged to deliver carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to halve emissions by 2050. Paul Steele, Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), who led the industry’s delegation at the UNFCCC COP 15 conference last month, said it was disappointing that there was no specific mention of aviation in the Copenhagen Accord and rejected suggestions the industry was off the hook.
“We were the only industry to go to Copenhagen with a comprehensive plan and very ambitious targets and how they could be implemented at a global level,” said Steele. “We were asking governments to agree to a global sectoral approach for aviation that avoided an overlapping patchwork of national and regional arrangements to deal with aviation emissions, and to ensure any economic measures were global, fair and introduced on a consensus basis to avoid competitive issues.
“Governments can help in making the necessary investment in improving air traffic management, particularly in Europe and North America. We are actively working with and lobbying governments to continue to accelerate the introduction of those new technologies and, of course, to facilitate and create the right framework to help the development and availability of alternative fuels and biofuels for aviation.”
Steele said that the Copenhagen summit had enabled the industry to put its point of view across that there should be no further arbitrary targets, levies and taxes, and more governments had now recognized that the way to deal with aviation emissions was through ICAO in a global context.
“We were able to use Copenhagen to build a dialogue with sectors of government – environment, foreign affairs and treasuries – that quite honestly we had not been very good at engaging with previously,” he said. “From an industry perspective we would have liked to have seen more but we recognize that aviation was a very small part of the overall debate.”
He said the industry was ahead of the regulators and political decision-makers on the issue but would continue to work towards delivering on its targets and to work through ICAO to put the right framework in place. A clear industry roadmap and a potential global framework were being developed, he revealed, which would be taken to September’s ICAO Assembly. Work would also continue within the UNFCCC process with the aim of taking the discussions further at its December COP 16 conference in Mexico.
Added Steele: “We were disappointed there wasn’t more discussion on global carbon markets in Copenhagen, and over the next few months we will be looking at how mechanisms could be created at a global level in which we could have access to a global market of some description.”
Bisignani reflected on his own conversion to the importance of the environmental issue four years ago, when there was a growing public perception – wrongly, in his view – that the aviation industry was one of the worst polluters. He said that achieving a worldwide consensus within the industry had not been easy but the turning point had come after IATA’s Annual General Meeting in 2007. “The aviation industry as a whole is now committed,” he maintained.