The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the airline industry is committed to achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020.
Two years ago we set a vision to achieve carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future. Today we have taken a major step forward by committing to a global cap on our emissions in 2020. After this date, aviations emissions will not grow even as demand increases. Airlines are the first global industry to make such a bold commitment, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATAs Director General and CEO in his State of the Industry address to 500 of the industrys top leaders gathered in Kuala Lumpur for the 65th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit. The commitment to carbon-neutral growth completes a set of three sequential goals for air transport: (1) a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency from 2009 to 2020; (2) carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and (3) a 50% absolute reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve these goals, all players in the air transport industry are united in their proactive approach to environment. A cross industry four-pillar strategy on climate change that is focused on improved technology, effective operations, efficient infrastructure and positive economic measures is delivering results. In 2009 the carbon footprint of air transport is expected to shrink by 7%. Of this, 5% is due to the recession and 2% is directly related to efficiency gains from IATAs four-pillar strategy. No other industry is as united. And no other industry can point to such good results and progress, said Bisignani. Bisignani noted that the airlines commitment needed to be matched by governments. We are ambitious, but our success will be contingent on governments acting effectively. ICAO must set binding carbon emissions standards on manufacturers for new aircraft. A legal and fiscal framework to support the availability of sustainable biofuels must be established. And governments must work with air navigation service providers to push forward major infrastructure projects such as a Single European Sky, NextGen in the US or fixing the Pearl River Delta in China, said Bisignani. The commitment to carbon-neutral growth by 2020 recognizes that technology, operations and infrastructure improvements alone will not be sufficient to stop growth in air transports carbon footprint. Positive economic measures are needed to bridge the gap until the full benefits of future technologiesincluding sustainable biofuelsare realized, said Bisignani. The timing of the industry commitment to carbon-neutral growth is significant, as governments prepare for the UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen (December 2009) and the post-Kyoto discussions. IATA reiterated its call for a global sectoral approach for aviation in the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Under such an approach, aviations emissions would be capped and accounted for globally, not by state. IATA would work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ensure compliance. Airlines should get carbon credits for every cent we pay, whether in taxes, charges or ETS payments. And we should pay only once, not several times said Bisignani. We can be proud of going farther and faster than any other industry. Air transport is a model for environment responsibility for other industries to follow. The challenge will be for governments to catch up, said Bisignani.