NEW YORK, New York, October 15, 2009 (ENS) – To help limit climate change, the international air transport industry has made a commitment to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
In addition, the airlines have pledged to improve fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5 percent annually to 2020 and stabilize carbon emissions with carbon-neutral growth from 2020.
Giovanni Bisignani, head of the International Air Transport Association, presented the aviation industry’s climate change strategy and targets to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a meeting Tuesday at UN headquarters in New York.
Bisignani says the entire aviation industry – airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers – is “globally aligned” in its approach to climate change.
“I assured the secretary-general that the aviation industry is serious about its climate change responsibility,” said Bisignani. “We have united all the players with a clear strategy and targets that are even tougher than those our regulators are prepared to administer. No other industry is as united, ambitious or determined.”
The industry is “eager to work within the UN framework” to achieve its targets, he said.
The aviation industry is addressing its climate change impacts with a four pillar strategy based on technology, operations, infrastructure and positive economic measures, Bisignani explained.
In the meeting, the Secretary-General Ban commended the aviation industry’s commitment to contribute to the global fight against climate change and encouraged that these commitments be followed by concrete actions.
He stressed the importance of addressing emissions from international aviation and shipping if the world is to achieve its goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to a level that avoids dangerous climate change.
The meeting occurred in advance of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December where governments will coordinate a post-Kyoto framework to address climate change.
Aviation fuel currently corresponds to two to three percent of the total fossil fuels used worldwide, according to a special report on the sector by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Of this total, more than 80 percent is used by civil aviation.
By comparison, the whole transportation sector currently accounts for 20-25 percent of all fossil fuel consumption. Thus, the aviation sector consumes 13 percent of the fossil fuel used in transportation; it is the second biggest sector after road transportation, which consumes 80 percent.
A number of aircraft emissions can affect climate, the IPCC report explains. Carbon dioxide and water do so directly; other effects such as production of ozone in the troposphere, alteration of methane lifetime, formation of contrails and modified cirrus cloudines, are indirect.
The emissions that can affect stratospheric ozone – nitrogen oxides, particulates, and water vapor – do so indirectly by modifying the chemical balance in the stratosphere.
There has been sustained long-term growth in civil air transportation. For example, over the past 10 years, passenger traffic on scheduled airlines has increased by 60 percent and over the next 10 to 15 years, demand for air travel is expected to grow by about five percent per year.
To successfully address its carbon emissions, aviation is seeking recognition of its targets and the agreement of governments to a global sectoral approach under the leadership of International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, and in coordination with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
A global sectoral approach for aviation has three main elements:
- That aviation’s carbon emissions are accounted for at a global level, not by state
- That aviation should be fully accountable for its carbon emissions and required to pay only once for these emissions
- That industry has access to global carbon markets to offset emissions until technology can provide the ultimate solution
“Our goal at Copenhagen is simple: to achieve a practical framework that will allow aviation to stabilize and eventually reduce its carbon emissions as a global industrial sector,” said Bisignani.
“I was encouraged by Secretary-General Ban’s understanding of what aviation has achieved so far, and I count on his support for a conclusion in Copenhagen that will set a framework for our future success,” he said.
In Montreal last week, member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization, representing 93 percent of commercial air traffic, approved a Declaration affirming their commitment to address aviation emissions that contribute to climate change by working through ICAO.
A three-day high-level meeting convened by ICAO on climate change reached agreement on the way governments working together with the industry intend to reduce aviation’s climate impact.
As the meeting concluded, ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez said, “The nations of the world that represent the vast majority of international civil aviation traffic have spoken and their commitment is clear.”
These proposed measures build on a Programme of Action adopted by the Council of the Organization in June, which the council says is the first globally-harmonized agreement to address climate impacts from a sector.
“Our work with UN organizations has produced impressive results – working with the International Civil Aviation Organization we made flying the safest way to travel,” said Bisignani. “With the support of governments we can make aviation a role model for successful industry partnerships with the UN to address climate change.”