Date: 17 September 2010
ATAG Aviation and Environment Summit, Geneva
Good morning. Since our last summit, only 18 months ago, the world has changed. The prospects for the global economy and for the industry are now cautiously optimistic. And advances on the industry’s environment agenda have taken us to new heights in combating global climate change.
The biggest event was COP-15 in Copenhagen. Some considered it a failure or a disappointment because it did not produce the global agreement that was hoped for. But for our industry, it was a very important milestone. Prior to Copenhagen, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended aviation as a role model for its responsible approach to climate change. And he personally invited aviation to present its story at COP-15.
We were present in Copenhagen as a united industry, from airlines, aircraft operators, and airports to ANSPs and manufacturers. We had a strong message; a 1.5% annual improvement in fuel efficiency to 2020, capping net emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth and cutting our net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005.
No other global industry has such ambitious targets or such an impressive track record to back it up. No other industry is as united across all its value chain. We had a strong message and a strong position. Governments from around the world understood. They were impressed by the leadership that our united industry is taking on climate change and, they recognized that our global industry needs governments to act globally under the leadership of ICAO.
What has happened since Copenhagen? The pace of change increased. Today, I will highlight three points: technical achievements, our relationship with the UNFCCC and the global political framework as we approach the ICAO Assembly and COP-16 in Cancun.
Our carbon footprint in 2009 was 625 million tonnes of CO2. Aviation is committed to further reducing that total. We are investing in the future and we are taking a practical approach to reducing emissions today. Over the last year, we re-confirmed our targets and developed a road map to achieve them. Even through the worst financial crisis in aviation history, airline budgets for environment projects were not cut.
The numbers tell the story. Between now and 2020, the industry will spend $1.3 trillion for 12,000 new aircraft. 5000 of those aircraft will replace old planes, bringing fuel savings of 20-25%. Even with the additional aircraft, overall fleet efficiency will improve.
IATA will better track progress on all targets including fuel efficiency, by having all our members report fuel consumption and traffic. By optimizing over 1600 routes and working with hundreds of airlines to spread best practices in fuel management, IATA has helped save 75 million tonnes of CO2 since 2004.
Yesterday we announced iFlex. Flexible routings focused on ultra-long-haul operations in low density airspace and across multiple ATCs that have the potential to reduce fuel burn by up to 2%. In the coming months, we will work with key stakeholders to validate the proof of concept for the Middle East and South Atlantic. A pilot project where aircraft can better optimize their flights is planned for 2011.
The greatest excitement is for second-generation biofuels which could reduce our carbon footprint by up to 80%. Camelina, jatropha and algae are the main focus. These do not compete with food supplies for water or land resources are precious. Five airlines tested them successfully. At least four more will test later this year. Some airlines have even signed forward-purchase agreements. All this progress is the result of hard work by airlines and biofuel companies. Governments invested peanuts and the oil companies even less. 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. Biofuels could break the tyranny of oil and lift millions from poverty along with providing a sustainable fuel source for aviation.
The UNFCCC has also changed enormously over the last months. Firstly, the change in leadership from Yvo De Boer to Chistiana Figueres opens a new phase. We are working well with her and she is supporting IATA’s efforts. UNFCCC is learning from Copenhagen and the process before. Since Kyoto was signed, most states have not met their targets agreed through the UNFCCC. The approach to COP-16 will be different. Under Executive Secretary Figueres, there is a willingness to proactively engage industry to deliver results. You heard this clearly in her remarks yesterday.
There was also a clear recognition of ICAO’s responsibility to manage aviation’s emissions as per the Kyoto Protocol. And critically, the concern for any conflict between UNFCCC’s principle, Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), and ICAO’s universality has been addressed.
The UNFCCC has confirmed that a global solution for aviation through ICAO will not compromise in any way the positions of states on the issue of CBDR in non-aviation discussions. And we know that ICAO can deliver an inclusive solution with a mechanism to take care of the needs of developed and developing states. There is a precedent. The ICAO global solution for noise had extended timelines and support measures for developing states.
Towards the ICAO Assembly
But all of this good news and progress still needs governments to agree to a global approach. The ICAO Assembly opens in just 11 days. It is our best opportunity for governments to endorse the industry position. I am hopeful. Clearing the CBDR issue removes a major obstacle. I have personally spoken with many ministers including India, China and Saudi Arabia. There is great support for what this industry is doing. Earlier this month, the CLAC representing 22 Latin American states, formally endorsed the industry position. We are expecting a similar endorsement by African states. Even the European Union has referred to our targets as its minimum acceptable level of reductions.
The gap between industry and government on technical issues is narrowing. The ICAO High Level Meeting on the Environment set a course for a global approach that recognized the industry’s significant commitments and asked for a 2% annual improvement in fuel efficiency.
Our commitment is 1.5%. The 0.5% difference can be covered if governments deliver critical infrastructure improvement; the Single European Sky, sorting out the Pearl River Delta and finalizing NextGen in the US.
I am still concerned that governments are using environment as an excuse for post-recession fund-raising. This is the case with the UK raising Air Passenger Duty to $3.8 billion and Germany starting its own $1 billion tax on air travel. We must continue to fight these and regional schemes like the European ETS that take billions from the industry but do nothing to improve environmental performance.
There are important financial and technical details that we will need to find agreement on. But the focus from today through to the ICAO Assembly must be on achieving a political decision to endorse and guide the industry’s vision and targets.
The stage is set for success. Aviation is a great industry commended by the UN Secretary General as a role model. We have agreed to a global set of commitments and are delivering measurable results. Most governments and regional blocs are already on board, including many developing nations. And let’s not forget that in the Kyoto protocol, governments agreed to handle aviation’s emissions through ICAO.
There has never been a better time than this Assembly for governments through ICAO to deliver a global solution on aviation and climate change.
Sending a Message
At this critical time, this Summit must send a clear set of messages to governments.
We, the aviation industry, have acted responsibly. We have brought to governments a working solution for aviation and climate change. This solution includes developed and developing nations as we deliver significant emissions reductions. We have committed to go further than any other industry with a 50% cut in net emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 level. Now we need all governments on board sharing climate change leadership for aviation with agreement on a global framework under ICAO that can be endorsed by COP-16.