The past 18 months have been the worst financial times in modern aviation history. But even in these harsh times, airlines budgets earmarked for environment projects were not cut. The numbers tell the story. In the next 10 years, the industry will spend US$1.3 trillion for 12,000 new aircraft. Each of these will be 20-25% more fuel efficient than their predecessors, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATAs Director General and CEO at the Aviation and Environment Summit being held in Geneva by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).
The global aviation industry is united behind three targets to address climate change: a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency to 2020, capping net emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth, and cutting net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005. To achieve these targets, the aviation industry is also united on a four-pillar strategy: investing in new technology, more efficient infrastructure, more effective operations and positive economic measures.
Bisignani highlighted that sustainable biofuels are making great progress and moving closer to certification for commercial use. Five airlines have already tested flights using sustainable biofuels and four more tests are expected before the end of the year. With certification expected within months, distribution and commercialization are the challenge. It is in the self-interest of every government to get much more involved and support the commercialization of biofuels with incentives to facilitate the needed investments, said Bisignani.
Bisignani made special note of the critical timing of the 37th ICAO Assembly which opens on 28 September. We cannot meet our ambitious targets without the support and cooperation of governments. Aviation is a global industry. We need a global framework under ICAO to guide our efforts. The ICAO Assembly is our best opportunity to achieve this in time for COP-16 in Cancun. Political obstacles being removed, the industry is committed to aggressive targets and our track record demonstrates that we will achieve them. Supporting aviations efforts should be an easy decision for governments to make in Montreal, said Bisignani.
Bisignani noted that the significant changes seen at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since the Copenhagen meeting will help facilitate an agreement at ICAO. Christiana Figueres, the new Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC who took charge in May, is working with the industry to achieve solutions. In a speech to the Summit delegates, the Executive Secretary welcomed aviations proactive targets and
Re-iterated the importance of a government agreement on international aviation emissions at the ICAO Assembly
Confirmed that ICAOs principle of universality for aviation would not conflict with, or compromise the UNFCCCs principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) in non-aviation issues, and
Recognized the need for a global approach to economic measures to ensure that aviation continues to deliver social and economic benefits while avoiding a patchwork of conflicting and potentially overlapping national and regional policies which would adversely affect the industry.
The willingness of the UNFCCC to constructively engage and challenge the industry is a new and much welcomed approach. Clearing the CBDR issue removes a major political obstacle. With ICAO, a global framework can accommodate the special needs of developing nations. A decade ago, governments agreed to a global solution on noise through ICAO that included extended timelines for developing nations, said Bisignani.
Bisignani also encouraged governments to speak out against uncoordinated economic measures that will not be effective in reducing emissions. We must continue to oppose regional and national emissions trading schemes and taxes that take billions from the industry but do nothing to improve environmental performance, said Bisignani.
IATA also reported the growing state support for the industrys work, including endorsement from the developing world. Earlier this month, a group of 22 Latin American countries formally endorsed the industry position, and African states are expected to follow soon. We are building critical momentum. More and more governments are showing their political will to match the industrys ambitious commitments by supporting the global framework needed to achieve them. There is still some ground left to cover, but I am confident that we are moving in the right direction to reduce emissions while protecting the social and economic benefits of aviation, said Bisignani.