A LETTER FROM THE AVIATION SECTOR TO GOVERNMENTS
One year ahead of the 39th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly and as governments prepare to meet in Paris for the crucial COP21 climate change negotiations, we reaffirm our commitment to reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change. As a result of billions of dollars of investment and collaborative action already taken by the industry, a passenger today produces half the CO2 per kilometre flown compared to 1990. This is significant progress. But we recognise that more needs to be done.
Many economies rightly wish to foster the vital connectivity for trade, investment and tourism that further development of air transport can bring. We must balance that task with the challenge faced by all industrial sectors to reduce emissions. Aviation already supports around 60 million jobs, a third of global trade by value and half of all international tourists. Our mission is to continue to provide these benefits, particularly in the developing world, whilst at the same time cutting CO2 emissions.
As leaders in the aviation industry and the global business community and as the first global transport sector to set carbon-reduction goals, we have been engaged in impressive cross-sectoral climate action. Our ambitious goals are to:
- improve the fuel efficiency of the world fleet by an average 1.5% per annum, a goal we are already exceeding;
- stabilise net aviation CO2 emissions at 2020 levels through carbon-neutral growth;
- halve aviation’s net CO2 emissions by 2050, compared with a 2005 baseline.
These have been matched by action across the sector in four key areas:
Technology and sustainable alternative fuels: over a trillion dollars has been spent on high-technology, efficient, aircraft since 2009 and the industry has fostered a new alternative fuel sector. Aircraft and engine manufacturers already spend around $15 billion per year on research and development in order to deliver the necessary efficiency for the long-term fleet. Since 2009, over $1 trillion has been spent by airlines on over 9,500 new, more efficient, aircraft. Another 12,000 aircraft are in the production pipeline and have been ordered – some to address the growth in traffic, particularly in emerging economies, and many to replace older less-efficient aircraft. And sustainable, next-generation alternative fuels are being used more widely on routine flights.
Operations: through countless measures being implemented by the industry around the world, the operational efficiency of aircraft already in the fleet is continually being improved. From flexible routing, flying the shortest wind-adjusted routes; to the use of air traffic management technology to reduce separation and increase capacity; the use of collaborative decision-making, streamlining daily operations; “lightweighting” cabin equipment; maximising load factors, utilising new landing and take-off procedures and fitting fuel efficiency devices, all opportunities for operational efficiency are being actively pursued.
Infrastructure: airports are implementing efficiency measures on the ground and air traffic management organisations are working to design better use of airspace. Further, investments in new air traffic management technology, in airport capacity and a better and more flexible use of the airspace will result in fewer delays and more direct and efficient routes. With the necessary financial and political commitments from governments, these efforts will also bring about significant fuel burn and emissions reductions.
Market-based measures: the aviation industry is committed to a global market-based measure for the sector, to be developed through ICAO and in place from 2020. In the industry’s view, a single global carbon offsetting scheme offers the swiftest and most effective approach.
Today we call on governments to support efforts towards realising these goals.
This support must take place through a range of actions:
air traffic management investment and reform – including the implementation of ICAO-promoted aviation system block upgrades and particularly commitments by governments to deploy performance-based navigation which can help cut emissions and community noise; continued support for research into new technology, operations and sustainable alternative fuels – these can help boost national research objectives. We encourage education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, fostering the future generation of aeronautical engineers and knowledge economies. Research into new feedstocks and production pathways for alternative aviation fuel will help provide sustainable energy and local economic opportunities; improved intermodal transport planning – to help connect people and businesses through increased and efficient mobility, transport systems must be designed as easy to use, frequent, convenient, joined-up and available to all parts of society. This is a vital enabler of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals; and the right policy framework to help accelerate the availability of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation – these fuels will help cut emissions significantly (by up to 80% over their lifecycles in some instances) and can be produced from sustainable, non-food crops and waste by-products. Aviation is the perfect sector to use them, but we must make sure sufficient supply is available that meets both sustainability criteria and cost parameters. We are already using these fuels today in small quantities. To increase use for the future, there needs to be the right policy environment including the de-risking of production facilities.
These measures should be undertaken as part of a smart regulatory environment which encourages aviation development as part of broader government economic growth policy, coordinated within and across national borders to bring global benefits in a way that avoids unintended negative consequences.
Within States, many government departments and ministries have a stake in the development of aviation and in addressing its climate impacts, including transport, finance, environment and foreign affairs. We urge governments to ensure they take a collaborative, comprehensive and ‘joined up’ approach to aviation emissions at both COP21 and the 39th ICAO Assembly. In particular, we firmly believe that ICAO is best placed to determine an effective policy, strategy and programme to address international aviation emissions.
Importantly, we have just one year in which to shape a ground-breaking market-based measure that will, for the first time, enable a single global sector to stabilise its emissions from 2020. It's a challenging task. But it is one to which the aviation industry is fully committed. We need governments meeting at ICAO to work together with us and civil society to push this process forward. We call on them to agree at the 39th ICAO Assembly to the implementation of a simple, global offsetting scheme which will stabilise air transport carbon emissions growth and to endorse an historic global CO2 standard for new aircraft. To delay will harm a vital global sector and harm our global climate.
Just one year to go… the countdown is on!
For the full explanation of our commitments and examples of climate action across the sector, please visit www.enviro.aero/openletter