IATA Addressed Aviation Environmental Goals In Copenhagen





IATA Addressed Aviation Environmental Goals In Copenhagen 

By Daniel Baxter

December 11, 2009 - Copenhagen - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) brought the aviation industry’s environmental goals to Copenhagen. Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers are calling for a global approach to reducing aviation emissions and are united in a commitment to improve fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5% per year to 2020, stabilize carbon emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth and to a net reduction in carbon emissions of 50% by 2050 compared to 2005. 

“We are the only global industry coming to Copenhagen with a strong track record and a commitment to cut our emissions in half by 2050. These goals clearly show that the aviation industry is even ahead of its regulators in its approach to climate change,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO, as he presented the industry position to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen. 


Bisignani’s presentation was part of an official side meeting hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN’s specialized agency for aviation. The Kyoto protocol gives ICAO the responsibility for aviation’s international emissions. Throughout ICAO’s 65-year history, it has worked with industry to create the global standards that governments around the world have implemented to ensure that aviation is safe, secure and efficient and environmentally responsible. 

Bisignani urged governments to act. “The only way that we can meet our targets is by working in cooperation with governments through ICAO. I call on governments in Copenhagen to give ICAO a clear mandate to report back to COP-16 with a Global Sectoral Approach that will enable the aviation industry to deliver real results against concrete targets,” said Bisignani. 

A Global Sectoral Approach, through ICAO, to manage aviation’s emissions will ensure a level playing field. The approach consists of three main elements: 

• Full accounting for aviation’s emissions as a global industrial sector, not by state

• Global coordination of economic measures to ensure that aviation will not pay more than once for its emissions

• Access to global carbon markets  

Accommodating the Needs of Developing Nations: A Global Sectoral Approach through ICAO can accommodate the needs of developed and developing nations. “A good precedent is when ICAO tackled the tough issue of noise, working with the industry. We set global standards that accommodated the needs of developed and developing nations. Today air transport is 75% quieter than four decades ago. Working together in a similar way, we can meet our environmental challenges,” said Bisignani.  


A Strategy Already Delivering Results: The aviation industry is already working towards its climate change goals through its four pillar strategy. The strategy focuses on investing in new technology, flying smarter, building efficient infrastructure, and taking advantage of positive economic measures. 

“This united industry strategy is not just words. Shortening routes, spreading best practice in fuel management and using more efficient ways to land are among the measures that we are implementing to reduce emissions. Since 2004, our four pillar strategy has saved over 70 million tonnes of CO2. Last year aviation’s carbon footprint was just under 670 million tonnes of CO2. That will shrink by 7% this year—5% from the recession and 2% as a direct result of our strategy,” said Bisignani. 

Looking forward, Bisignani highlighted the potential of sustainable biofuels. “A few years ago they were a dream. Today we can say that five airlines have tested them successfully. They are safe and they have the potential to reduce our carbon footprint by up to 80% over the lifecycle of the fuel. We expect certification by 2011 at the latest. We have been diligent with our homework. Now governments must create the right legal and fiscal frameworks to support their commercialization and distribution,” said Bisignani. 

IATA is the global association for the airline industry. IATA’s 230 member airlines comprise 93% of scheduled international traffic. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is the specialized UN agency for international civil aviation. In October 2009 ICAO convened a high level meeting on environment. The meeting confirmed the desire of governments to deal with aviation and climate change through ICAO. The meeting concluded with a declaration with the following commitments: 

1. States to work together to achieve a global annual average fuel efficiency improvement of 2% to 2050 

2. ICAO and its contracting states to evaluate the possibility of more ambitious goals by the next ICAO Assembly (2010), taking into consideration industry’s collective commitments and the special needs of developing nations 

3. ICAO to establish the process to develop a framework for economic measures  

4. ICAO and its contracting states to encourage the development and use of sustainable biofuels

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