At last year’s UNFCCC climate negotiations in Lima, COP20, the Peruvian presidency and the upcoming French presidency set up a new initiative called the ‘Lima-Paris Action Agenda’ (LPAA) alongside the UN and UNFCCC. The purpose of the LPAA is to bring together not only governments, but cities, regions and other sub national entities, international organizations, civil society, indigenous peoples, women, youth, academic institutions, as well as businesses (otherwise known as ‘non-state actors’) to find solutions to addressing climate change.

At COP21, currently underway in Paris, Indana Prabhakara Rao, CEO of Delhi International Airport, has been speaking about the role of aviation in the context of the LPAA. In case you didn’t catch it, here is the transcript of his speech:

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it is a great honor and pleasure for me to speak here this morning representing one of the many thousands of businesses associated with the Air Transport Action Group and to represent the aviation industry.

Civil aviation helps to support around 60 million jobs, a third of world trade by value and half of all international tourist arrivals. However, like all other sectors, it also brings various environmental challenges, such as carbon emissions.

We are at a crucial point, where our actions or our inaction on environmental concerns can have consequences beyond our own lifetimes.

The LPAA project really demonstrates the key role business leaders can play to become the drivers of change.

Our industry has been pushing for climate action since 2008, when we were the first transport sector to agree on a global set of goals for reducing emissions:

  • A short-term fuel efficiency goal which we are in fact exceeding;
  • A mid-term goal to cap emissions growth from aviation through a global market-based measure;
  • And a long-term ambitious goal to halve the industry’s CO2 emissions by 2050.

These goals were reaffirmed in an Open Letter sent to the world’s governments by aviation industry leaders in September. Since these goals were set, airlines have spent over a trillion dollars on new aircraft. Manufacturers invest $15 billion a year in new technology research and development, much of it to reduce emissions. Airports and air navigation service providers have been engaged in impressive collaborative action.

These initiatives have brought significant results. For example, on average, your flights home from Paris will produce around half the CO2 that the same trip would have in 1990. In other words, we have doubled the fuel efficiency in 25 years.

Another example at the country level is India, with a comprehensive regulatory framework for aviation emissions and has launched the Future India Air Navigation System initiative, which is based on projects in the fields of communication and air navigation. 

Looking forward, there is only so much the industry can do by ourselves. We are a heavily regulated sector. To fully realise the potential for efficiency measures we will need governments to step up and commit too. It must take place through a range of actions including:

  • air traffic management investment;
  • support for research;
  • improved intermodal transport planning;
  • and the right policy framework to help accelerate the availability of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.
  • Importantly, we need governments meeting at next year’s ICAO Assembly to endorse the global market-based measure which will stabilise air transport carbon emissions growth from 2020.
  • Failure to agree will harm a vital global sector and harm our global climate.

Overall, converting these goals into action by all the aviation stakeholders is indeed the collaborative approach needed to achieve the ultimate vision of a sustainable aviation sector.

An example of such a collaboration being taken by airports is Airport Carbon Accreditation. This initiative was developed by Airports Council International in 2009 and is the only global standard for carbon management in the airport industry. The objective is to reduce airport carbon emissions, with the ultimate target of becoming carbon neutral. The 136 participating airports represent 31% of world passenger traffic, while thus far, 20 airports have achieved carbon neutrality. Based on a new commitment that was announced yesterday, 50 airports across Europe will achieve carbon neutrality for carbon emissions fully within their control by 2030.

We are very proud that my airport, Delhi International, was the first airport in India to become accredited. 

As part of our extensive sustainability strategy we have taken various efficiency measures at Delhi Airport in terms of green infrastructure (LEED gold certification), solar renewable energy use (currently with a 7.5 MW facility and expected to reach 20 MW by 2020), and superior technology integration such as Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM). Delhi Airport is also the first airport registered under Clean Development Mechanism of UNFCCC for Energy Efficiency Measures

We ensure at Delhi Airport that the collaborative approach is the key strategic element for combating climate change.

These examples provide you with just a small illustration of the global action taking place and the collaboration needed between industry and governments to help deliver the ambitious goals the sector has set.