Aviation industry reaches agreement to manage carbon emissions
Airline CEOs and experts from around the world, meeting at the International Air Transport Association (Iata) annual general meeting, in Cape Town, have agreed on a global approach aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the airline industry.
The 240 Iata member airlines have endorsed a resolution, which will provide governments with a set of principles on how to establish procedures for a single market-based measure.
“Airlines are committed to working with governments to build a solid platform for the future sustainable development of aviation,” said Iata environment director Paul Steele.
Given that Iata’s member airlines, in 191 countries, vary enormously in size and level of growth, the resolution has been seen as a breakthrough. Steele said it had been imperative for airlines to come to an agreement.
“We want to avoid a patchwork quilt of measures. It’s the global glue that holds the world economy together and we need a global mechanism rather than conflicting and overlapping mechanisms,” he said at a media briefing on Monday.
Iata member airlines agreed that a single mandatory carbon-offsetting scheme would be the simplest and most effective option for a market-based measure.
While it is a global agreement, Iata director-general and CEO Tony Tyler said the industry body had agreed to accommodate new market entrants for their initial years of operation and to take fast-growing carriers into account.
The agreement is also aimed at the adoption of an equitable balance by considering an “emissions share” element, which will take into account a carrier’s share of total industry emissions.
Aviation is the first industry to suggest a global approach to the application of a single market-based measure to manage its climate change impact.
Tyler said the airlines industry was on target to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5% a year to 2020. It also aimed to cut emissions by half by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
The aviation industry worldwide was already paying $7-billion in environmental charges and taxes, Iata pointed out.
Steele said he hoped that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) would seriously consider Iata’s resolution.
“Now the ball is in the court of governments. We will be strongly supporting their leadership as they seek a global agreement through the Icao at its assembly later this year.”
The airlines industry has agreed on a four-pillar strategy to achieve environmental improvements, from investing in new technology and using more efficient operations when flying, to building and using efficient infrastructure and using effective, global and market-based measures.
Some steps have been suggested. The use of performance-based navigation at airports to reduce fuel burn and noise is seen as a high priority. The Single European Sky initiative has a target to reduce environmental impact by 10% a flight, although progress has been slow.
Iata says a number of companies have announced plans to boost biofuel production and research, but these need greater commitment from governments. Iata wants to see backing for large-scale aviation biofuels projects that bring costs down to a level where biofuel is competitive with jet kerosene.