Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam - Let’s start with one clear fact: aviation’s contribution to climate change is 2% according to the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Aviation is a small part of a big problem, and we are determined to be a part of the solution.

The Commitment

IATA’s four-pillar strategy addresses climate change by investing in technology, flying planes effectively, building efficient infrastructure and using positive economic measures. All 179 states attending the 2007 ICAO Assembly endorsed the strategy. It is also a common industry commitment, signed by the CEOs of Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer, CFM, GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce as well as IATA, ATAG, ACI, CANSO and other associations and companies. Our common target is to achieve a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency by 2020 compared to 2005.

IATA is even more ambitious, mapping the way to carbon-neutral growth, with a vision for a carbon-emission-free future. No other industry is as united, responsible or ambitious.

The Stand

We have a good story to tell as you can see in this stand brought here with the help of Schiphol, KLM and the Board of Airline representatives in the Netherlands (BARIN). The purpose is to tell travellers that the industry takes environment seriously, delivers significant results and is determined to do more. We will take this stand to Europe’s main airports.

The Crisis

Even in this crisis, environment is a top priority. Today oil is below US$90, down from the summer peak of US$140. The average for the year is likely to be US$113, much higher than the US$73 of last year. Airlines face a fuel bill of US$186 billion, US$50 billion more than last year. The bigger worry is the global financial crisis. Even a 1% drop in revenues is US$5 billion. Saving fuel today not only reduces CO2 emissions, but it is a matter of survival.


IATA’s environment leadership is delivering results that are helping our members to survive. Working with airlines, airports and air navigation service providers, between 2004 and 2007, we saved 44.5 million tonnes of CO2, equal to US$7.7 billion in fuel costs. Already this year we identified and saved a further 13.5 million tonnes of CO2, equal to US$4.6 billion. Now others - particularly governments - must help us to deliver even bigger results.

Alternative fuels

Bio-fuels are a good example. Trials proved that they are viable. Air France-KLM is part of a group of airlines committed to exploring them. There are many exciting sustainable possibilities that do not compete with food crops for land. The EU has set a target of 20% biofuels by 2020. Now Governments must work with the industry to certify biofuels and then ramp up production.

Greater Efficiency in Air Navigation

In addition to a Single European Sky, we must also look at how aircraft land and take-off. Every Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) saves between 150 to 600kg of CO2. Each Clean Airspeed Departure (CAD) saves between 600 to 5000 kg of CO2. But we can take advantage of these efficiencies at fewer than 50 of Europe’s airports. Much faster action is needed. Last month in Montreal I signed a joint work programme with CANSO and EUROCONTROL. The goal is to save EUR390 million and 1.5 million tonnes of CO2. And there is much more that can be done…

Single European Sky

And there is much more that can be done including a Single European Sky. Clearing up the mess of 35 different air traffic control providers could save US$5 billion and 16 million tonnes of CO2. For decades, instead of progress all we have had is hot air. This summer Vice President Tajani achieved Commission approval for the second package. The technical solutions are well known and many are in place. But it will take political will to turn Europe’s biggest environmental embarrassment into a success story.

Governments and Taxation

But governments think green and see cash. And they only move fast when implementing taxes. Look how quickly the Netherlands Government implemented the departure tax, originally conceived in the name of the environment. My colleagues on the panel will expand on how this is distorting the market and hurting the environment. Last Monday the Prime Minister promised to look at this by 2012 when aviation becomes part of the European emissions trading scheme (ETS). Double-taxing the industry makes no sense. I will be knocking at the Prime Minister’s door in a few years time to remind him of his promise


Worse is Europe’s unilateral approach to emissions trading. Instead of working on a global solution that could be positive for the environment, we have a unilateral approach fixated on one aspect of the four pillars that leaves the rest of the world behind. Kyoto asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to deal with aviation’s climate change emissions. In June, the G8 declaration supported ICAO’s role even as the EU pushed forward unilaterally. This approach could not be more wrong:

First, it’s meant to be a EUR 3.5 billion incentive to improve performance. Airlines are already doing everything that they can to save every drop of fuel possible. So it’s cost that airlines could better spend investing in new technology.

Second, regional schemes are not effective. EU ETS will introduce commercial distortions that hurt Europe’s carriers. So it will be less costly to fly from here to Singapore via a Middle East hub than flying direct.

Third, the ETS concept went morally bankrupt when the European Parliament only suggested that profits from this tax scheme “should” be spent on environmental projects. That’s almost a guarantee that none of the money will be used on environmental projects.

Finally, it is illegal. This unilateral approach contravenes the Chicago Convention. Already over 130 countries have stated their opposition to Europe’s action. Instead of cleaning up the environment, Europe is creating an international legal mess with a responsible airline industry caught in the middle. If Europe genuinely wants to take leadership on environment it must support the Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC) at ICAO, the only hope for a global solution. Europe is represented by France, Germany and Switzerland. They must be strong voices for effective global solutions

Time to Focus

To recap, this stand is a strong reminder that airlines take their environmental responsibility seriously, are delivering results and that even better results could be achieved if governments focused on operations and efficiency rather than taxation. And that this is a global industry in need of effective global solutions. Thank you very much.