Aviation was the first transport sector which set global goals to proactively manage its climate change impact, in 2008. These goals include capping net CO2 emissions from 2020 through a global market-based measure being developed at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and a longer-term goal to reduce net CO2 emissions from aviation to half of 2005 levels, by 2050.
Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry coalition Air Transport Action Group which coordinated the letter said: “This is an influential set of business leaders adding their voice to those supporting climate action in the lead-up to the COP21 negotiations in Paris and one year ahead of aviation’s own climate deadline – the 39th ICAO Assembly. We are urging governments to back industry and civil society efforts to deliver this market-based measure.”
“Since we set the goals, the aviation sector has been actively undertaking fuel efficiency projects through the deployment of over a trillion dollars of new technology, improved operational procedures and moving towards more advanced infrastructure. However, government regulation and national political environments prevent us from fully influencing our own future. Today’s letter urges government action in five key areas to complement the significant action already taking place within the industry.”
The letter says that to maximise already impressive aviation action, “government support must take place through a range of actions: air traffic management investment and reform; continued support for research into new technology, operations and sustainable alternative fuels; improved intermodal transport planning; the right policy framework to help accelerate the availability of sustainable alternative fuels for airlines; and to agree at the 39th ICAO Assembly to both 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.”
Whilst Michael Gill says the industry believes the development of the global market-based measure is progressing well, “we have to ensure that the timelines do not slip and that the current positive momentum is not lost. Aviation has a distinct timeframe from the broader climate negotiations being undertaken at the UNFCCC. A progressive outcome in Paris would certainly help deliver a meaningful result at ICAO next September, but let’s not wait until after December for the aviation talks to proceed.”
The open letter, 60 days before the crucial COP21 climate talks in Paris, was signed by the chief executives of all the world’s major aircraft and engine manufacturers and leaders of associations representing over 90% of airline traffic; 1,861 airports and air traffic management organisations supporting 85% of traffic. In total, the organisations represent businesses with nearly a trillion dollars in annual revenue and over four million employees worldwide. The industry has been meeting with government and civil society representatives at the Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, Switzerland.