Paris - Transport was one of the main themes of the United Nations climate talks today in Paris, with delegates taking time from the negotiations to discuss the role transport can play in cutting CO2 emissions. Whilst the air transport industry has a separate forum where its emissions reduction plan is addressed – under the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) – the COP21 climate talks provide a good opportunity to remind delegates from all over the world about the commitments of the global aviation industry.

Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), said that COP21 was a unique setting in which to highlight climate action throughout the economy, “Aviation has a vital role to play in the global economy, supporting tourism, trade and jobs. It has a particularly important place in the development plans of emerging economies. We want to make sure we can balance this growth with the need to reduce CO2 emissions and our industry climate action framework is based on these interests.

In 2008, the aviation sector became the first to set global goals to proactively manage its climate change impact. The industry will stabilise its net CO2 emissions from 2020 through a concept called carbon-neutral growth, whereby traffic would continue to rise to meet the demands of society and the economy, but growth in emissions would be offset through a global market-based measure. The longer-term goal is to actually reduce net CO2 emissions from aviation to half of what they were in 2005, by 2050.

At the Lima-to-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) Transport event today, the aviation industry was represented by Mr Indana Prabhakara Rao, the chief executive officer of Delhi International Airport, who said that the world was 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.”

Mr Rao continued: “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. These goals were reaffirmed in an Open Letter sent to the world’s governments by aviation industry leaders in September. Converting these goals into action by all aviation stakeholders is best achieved through a collaborative approach to achieve the ultimate vision of a sustainable aviation sector.”

The open letter can be found at www.enviro.aero/openletter. Governments are meeting at COP21 in Paris to craft a new agreement on reducing the human impact on climate. The aviation sector has its own process for regulating the sector’s climate action, at ICAO. As part of that process, work is currently underway on the development of a global market-based measure, to be signed-off by governments at the ICAO Assembly in September 2016.

One of the projects highlighted during Mr Rao’s address was the Airports Council International ‘Airport Carbon Accreditation’ programme – the only global standard for carbon management in the airport industry. Of the 136 airports participating (representing 31% of world passenger traffic), 20 airports have achieved carbon neutrality. Based on a new commitment that was announced yesterday, 50 airports across Europe will achieve neutrality for carbon emissions fully within their control by 2030. Delhi International Airport was the first Indian airport to take part in the programme.