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Iata calls for support against climate change

Geneva, September 18, 2010

The International Air Transport Association (Iata), the international industry trade group of airlines, has called on the world’s governments to unite in support of aviation’s ambitious targets to combat climate change.

“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,” said Giovanni Bisignani, Iata’s director general and CEO at the Aviation and Environment Summit being held in Geneva by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).

“The numbers tell the story. In the next 10 years, the industry will spend $1.3 trillion for 12,000 new aircraft. Each of these will be 20-25 per cent more fuel efficient than their predecessors,” he added.

The global aviation industry is united behind three targets to address climate change: a 1.5 per cent 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, he said.

To achieve these targets, the aviation industry is united on a four-pillar strategy: investing in new technology, more efficient infrastructure, more effective operations and positive economic measures, Bisignani explained.

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 (International Civil Aviation Organisation) Assembly which opens on September 28.

“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,” said Bisignani.

“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 aviation’s efforts should be an easy decision for governments to make in Montreal,” he added.

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, reiterated the importance of a government agreement on international aviation emissions at the ICAO Assembly and confirmed that ICAO’s principle of universality for aviation would not conflict with, or compromise the UNFCCC’s principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) in non-aviation issues.

“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,” said Bisignani.

“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.”

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 industry’s 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 industry’s 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,” Bisignani concluded. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Iata | climate change | ICAO | Giovanni Bisignani | Aviation and Environment Summit |

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