Date: 24 May 2009
World Business Summit on Climate Change, Copenhagen
Last year 2.3 billion people flew safely. Airlines did this by working together with airports, air traffic control, manufacturers and governments. And we did it with some powerful tools: global standards; technology advances and shared best practices. We must take the same approach on climate change.
I am here today to explain our vision, share our targets and ask for your support in achieving them.
Air transport is a united industry. Our four-pillar strategy on climate change is guiding airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers. Air transport’s strategy is delivering results
Aviation’s emissions will fall by 8% this year. Some 6% from the recession and 2% directly related to the strategy. Each pillar of the strategy has delivered measurable results.
Pillar 1 Technology. Fuel efficiency improved 70% over the last four decades - 23% in the last decade alone. Better aircraft and engines were the biggest contributor.
Pillars 2 Operations. How we fly makes a difference. IATA’s Green Teams are working with airlines around the world to implement best practices. This is now saving around 30 million tonnes of CO2 each year.
Pillar 3 Infrastructure. IATA’s work to shorten routes is saving at least another 30 million tonnes of CO2. And SAS is one of our pioneers with continuous descent approaches in Copenhagen. This new procedure can save up to 630 kg of CO2 for every landing.
Pillar 4 Positive Economic Measures. Some 30 airlines have carbon offset programs. This year IATA will launch an industry offset program so airlines can offer this option even more broadly.
Unfortunately many governments think green, but see cash and implement taxes with no link to environmental actions. But this is not the place to complain about misguided taxation or to take pride in our achievements. We are here to look forward.
The air transport industry is ambitious. In June 2007, at our Annual General Meeting in Vancouver, I announced a vision to achieve carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future. Our commitment, history and results tell us that this vision can be achieved. Working with ICAO, the UN’s aviation agency, we set three challenging targets: (1) a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency by 2020 compared to 2005; (2) to be using 10% alternative fuels by 2017 and (3) a 50% real reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005.
These are tough targets for an industry with some unique operating requirements. Some 2.3 billion travellers trust us to carry them safely at 30,000 feet. We need special materials and trusted technology. There is a necessary time line from innovation to implementation.
We will, however, achieve these targets - moving from improvements in fuel efficiency to absolute reductions.
We are already setting an important fourth target. We are finalising the technical and economic evaluation of a date for carbon-neutral growth beyond which our emissions will not grow even as demand increases. I challenge you to find another industry with a better track record, a more united an approach (covering all players around the globe), or with a stronger commitment.
We are ambitious. But alone we cannot achieve our targets. We must work together with governments and a common agenda.
Biofuels are a good example. Sustainable next generation biofuels could reduce our carbon footprint by up to 80%. Three years ago nobody thought it possible, but four successful test flights in the last year prove that biofuels work. I am confident that certification by 2011 will be a reality. For the first time aviation could have a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. We did this work on our own without government involvement. We could achieve much more, much faster, with a fiscal and legal framework to accelerate research and reward investment.
Where do we go from here? Kyoto recognised that aviation could not be handled within national targets. Unlike power plants our aircraft operate across borders and over the high seas. This has not changed and must be reflected in Kyoto 2 with a global policy framework that holds aviation accountable as a sector under the leadership of ICAO, working with the UNFCCC.
The challenge is to link the industry’s good work with government policies. One hundred and seventy-nine countries endorsed our four pillar strategy. Each pillar is critical but technology, operations and infrastructure will not progress fast enough to reach carbon-neutral growth in the medium term. Positive economic measures will be needed to fill the gap; until the full potential of the other three pillars can be implemented they must not distort competition. This is possible with a global sectoral approach. First ICAO must account for emissions at a global level for each operator. Like other industries we should pay only once and airlines should get carbon credits for every penny that they pay in green taxes or emissions trading schemes. And ICAO would be the policeman ensuring compliance as they effectively do with safety.
Air transport is a responsible industry. We facilitated the global village that has lifted millions out of poverty. We support 32 million jobs and US$3.5 trillion in economic activity. This represents 8% of global GDP and makes us a catalyst for growth and development. We must continue to play this vital role while further improving environmental performance.
Working with governments, we made air transport the safest way to travel. By working together we can make aviation the first global industry to achieve carbon-neutral growth, a model for others to follow.