The commitment of our industry to a global and effective approach on climate change has never been stronger. The economic crisis has not shifted our vision or diminished our efforts. No other industry is as proactive. Our achievements prove this.

This year we expect a 7.8% drop in global carbon emissions from aviation - 6.0% of this is from an expected drop in capacity. The other 1.8% is directly related to the Four Pillar Strategy on Climate Change that we agreed at this summit last year - specifically to pillars 1, 2 and 3: technology, operations and infrastructure. Our performance in 2008 gives confidence in our projections for this year.

Fuel Savings

Working side-by-side with our member airlines, IATA’s Green Teams identified savings of between 3 and 12% of fuel consumption at each airline visited with a direct relation to carbon output. We also worked with air navigation service providers for 214 more direct routings and better terminal area management at 103 airports. Combined, these saved almost 15 million tonnes of carbon in 2008. Our target for this year is to save a further 10 million tonnes. We are closer than ever to a Single European Sky and its potential 16 million tonnes annual CO2 savings. The challenge now is to encourage the new US administration to include NextGen spending in its stimulus package.


We made amazing progress on sustainable biofuels. When we presented our 10% target for alternative fuels by 2017, many thought that we were too ambitious. But recent successful tests by Continental, JAL, Air New Zealand and Virgin prove that next generation sustainable biofuels work. Some of the results from algae, camelina and jatropha showed that there is even a possibility for improved fuel efficiency.

Certification by 2010 or 2011 is a real possibility. And the potential benefits are enormous - an 80% reduction in emissions over the fuel’s life-cycle and increased energy security beyond current oil supplies. And a biofuel industry could be a big generator of employment and wealth for the developing world. Commercial production should be a priority for governments alongside research investments. Governments must provide effective incentives in their tax and regulatory frameworks.

Pillar Four

I am confident that we are making progress with pillars 1, 2 and 3 - technology, operations and infrastructure. But these will not cover all of our emissions in the near future. Pillar four - positive economic measures - needs our urgent attention. Industry is doing its job. The IATA global carbon offset programme is being launched with a group of airlines committed to the project. The IATA programme offers the advantages of a standard carbon calculator and settlement through IATA’s financial systems.

Now governments must come on board, first, by moving beyond punitive economic measures such as the excessive taxation that we see in the UK. Second, by focusing on measures that reduce emissions in a globally coordinated effort. That was the vision of the wise drafters of the Kyoto protocol. But governments are far away from achieving it.


2009 is a critical year for determining the post-Kyoto framework. Decisions taken by the UNFCCC at Copenhagen in December will include economic measures, which will impact aviation. We cannot wait and see. We must be prepared, even if we do not have a place at the table.

Governments will rely on the advice of ICAO, which is entrusted by Kyoto to deal with aviation’s international emissions. ICAO’s Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC) is preparing for Copenhagen. I am pleased that Raymond Benjamin, the next Secretary General of ICAO, has joined us today. This Summit must send a strong signal to all 190 ICAO contracting states that it is their responsibility to make the ICAO process a success through GIACC. That means defining a realistic path for our industry to deliver emissions reductions.

In the critical next three months three challenges must be met. The first is to marry the unified approach of the Chicago Convention that guides ICAO with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR) that is a cornerstone of the UNFCCC process. The second challenge is to preserve the sectoral approach for international aviation that was established by Kyoto. We don’t want exemptions from our responsibility, but the cross-border nature of our international business needs a global approach to avoid competitive distortions.
The third challenge is to develop economic measures that are effective in reducing aviation’s emissions. That means:

  1. Replacing the growing patchwork of green taxes, charges and emissions trading proposals with a global system
  2. Allocating the funds to environmental projects
  3. Being fair by treating aviation in proportion to its 2% contribution to global CO2 emissions

Towards the Post Kyoto World

In 2007 I set out a vision for this industry to achieve carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future. This pushed the boundaries of what people thought was possible. Twenty two months later, despite fuel and economic crises and by pushing governments, much has changed. Technology, operations and infrastructure - the first three pillars of our strategy - have brought us closer to carbon-neutral growth than ever. And our work with Solar Impulse to fly around the word using only the power of the sun will destroy the myth that carbon-free flight is impossible.

2009 is a critical juncture. Environmental responsibility is a core promise of this industry alongside safety and security. But we can only deliver on that promise if governments are aligned with all four pillars of our strategy. Copenhagen will test that alignment, especially on positive economic measures.

We can be proud of our industry’s role in global development - employing 32 million people and supporting US$3.5 trillion in economic activity. And of our industry’s environmental track record, which has been achieved as a result of the cooperation of all industry partners. But we cannot be complacent. We have a responsibility to secure the future of the millions who depend on us with effective global leadership on the environment that unites industry and governments with the common purpose of reducing emissions. By working together towards our common vision with a common approach, and with the same passion and commitment, I am confident we will deliver.