A4A urges adoption of proposed international aviation climate change agreement

Environmental Economic measures

Washington – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, urged the 191 Member States of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to adopt the proposed global carbon offsetting system for international aviation, which is being considered at the ongoing Triennial ICAO Assembly in Montreal, Canada. The landmark proposal, if adopted, would represent the first global agreement to implement a market-based measure for any individual sector.

As part of a global aviation coalition, A4A has consistently advocated in support of a global sectoral approach to aviation climate change policy under ICAO, which includes the adoption of the proposed global carbon offset system to serve as a “gap-filler” should international aviation not be able to achieve its stated goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020 through concerted industry and government investments in technology, sustainable alternative aviation fuels, operations and infrastructure. A4A and its members also support a regulatory structure to help international aviation meet the goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020.

“We join our colleagues in the Air Transport Action Group, the United States government and governments around the world in supporting the package that has been proposed as a complement to technology, sustainable alternative aviation fuels, operations and infrastructure measures to help international aviation meet the globally agreed goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020,” said A4A Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Nancy Young. “The global carbon offsetting system for international aviation would be the first sector-specific market-based measure to be agreed on a global basis - further cementing international aviation’s long-standing commitment to climate leadership. We urge the ICAO Member States to adopt the package as proposed.”

U.S. airlines continue to lead the way to reduce emissions from aviation and, with fuel-efficiency improvements saving more than 4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 1978, have a strong record of meeting that commitment. By investing billions of dollars in fuel-saving aircraft and engines, innovative technologies and advanced avionics, the U.S. airline industry improved its fuel efficiency by 120 percent between 1978 and 2015, resulting in emissions savings equivalent to taking 23 million cars off the road each of those years.

“U.S. airlines are proud that our business model aligns with environmental interest – and has for decades,” said Young. “The initiatives that our airlines are undertaking to further address emissions are designed to responsibly and effectively limit our fuel consumption, GHG emissions contribution and potential climate change impacts, while enabling commercial aviation to continue serving as a key driver to the U.S. economy.”

Further, U.S. airlines carried 24 percent more passengers and cargo in 2015 than they did in 2000, while emitting 6 percent less CO2, improving their fuel efficiency by 31 percent over this time period alone. In light of these efforts, U.S. commercial aviation accounts for only 2 percent of the nation’s man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while driving 5 percent of its GDP and supporting 11.3 million jobs.

U.S. airlines continue to aggressively pursue additional emission reduction opportunities, which include the development of commercially viable, sustainable alternative aviation fuels and upgrading their fleets with brand-new, more fuel efficient aircraft, purchasing 388 new aircraft in 2015, with more than 366 expected this year. In addition, U.S. airlines are central stakeholders in partnering efforts to modernize and professionalize the air traffic management system on a business-case basis, which could bring significant emissions savings through improved efficiency.