Reducing the environmental impact of aviation

Environmental Climate solutions

Montréal – Around 200 delegates are meeting in Montréal on Monday ahead of crucial environment discussions set to take place at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in September. Tomorrow’s meeting, organised by the cross-industry sustainable aviation organisation the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), will explore a number of aviation environmental issues on the international agenda.

Aviation industry experts will be joined by government and civil society representatives to explore the commercialisation of aviation biofuels; the balanced approach to reducing noise for aircraft operations; and the reforms needed to realise the potential efficiencies in air traffic management. The conference will conclude with an important panel focusing on the ICAO discussions on market-based measured for aviation – a key issue at this year’s ICAO Assembly.

ATAG’s Executive Director, Paul Steele, says, “this year is an important one for the discussions on aviation and climate change. It is vital that September’s ICAO Assembly delivers realistic progress towards a global market-based measure for international aviation. All sectors must play their part in reducing CO2 emissions. While aviation has made very significant progress in reducing its environmental footprint and we have some of the most ambitious industry-led goals for reducing emissions even further, a global market-based measure is a key component in our plans.”

Worldwide, aviation currently accounts for around two percent of global man-made carbon dioxide emissions. In 2009, the global aviation industry agreed a set of ambitious targets to reduce its CO2 output. It will cap its net CO2 from 2020 through ‘carbon-neutral growth’ and halve its net CO2 emission by 2050, based on 2005 levels.

“A key component of this is the need for a market-based measure to help achieve the carbon-neutral growth scenario. We must see progress on this in September. These discussions are challenging. Trying to get 192 countries to agree on anything is difficult, but when the economic stakes are high and with differences between the developed and developing world, these are tough decisions,” says Steele.

Last year, ATAG released a study they had conducted with Oxford Economics in which it was revealed that air transport supports some 56.6 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in global GDP. While 35% of world trade by value is transported by air, it only accounts for 0.5% of trade by volume, indicating very high-value trade. Over 50% of international tourists arrive by air.

Steele added, “Of course, most of the growth in air transport will occur in the fast-growth areas of the world. They want the opportunities that aviation can bring. We need to make sure that the growth is sustainable and making progress on the environmental issues is an important step in that journey. We have a very proud record in aviation of efficiency gains and we will continue to see improvements. Governments have a significant role to play in helping us achieve this. We hope they can provide us with the support needed at the ICAO Assembly in September.”