Thank you for the invitation to present aviation’s approach to climate change.

As IATA Director General I represent 230 airlines, comprising 93% of international traffic. IATA also sets standards and operates a $300 billion per year global settlement system. Together these roles facilitate the global connectivity that we all take for granted. Aviation supports 32 million jobs, and $3.5 trillion in economic activity.

The last decade has been a financial disaster for airlines, which lost $50 billion dollars. This year airlines will make a small profit of $8.9 billion.

But through the worst financial decade in our history, aviation kept focused on its top priorities: safety, security and environmental responsibility. Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers are working together with a common strategy and targets.

Working together is a unique characteristic of aviation. For example, we cooperated to reduce aircraft noise 75% over the last four decades. Today’s challenge is to reduce carbon emissions. Aviation’s 2% share of manmade emissions is 625 million tonnes of CO2. This is a global problem, aviation is a global industry - and we need a global solution.

Industry Leadership

IATA’s role is to lead the industry. In 2007 I announced a vision to achieve carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future.

To achieve this vision the industry agreed a four pillar strategy:

  • Investments in technology
  • More efficient infrastructure
  • More effective operations
  • And a global approach for positive economic measures.

This strategy is delivering results. Airlines are investing $1.3 trillion in new aircraft to be delivered by 2020. Each will be 15-20% more fuel efficient than the aircraft they replace. Since 2004 IATA has worked with airlines, governments and air navigation service providers to shorten 2000 routes and improve fuel management. We have saved over 76 million tonnes of CO2.

But we could do much more if governments were more committed. For decades, we called on European governments to manage airspace with a Single European Sky. This alone would cut aviation’s emissions by 16 million tonnes annually. Europe is united, but its skies remain fragmented. The lack of political will to move this forward is a costly disappointment for airlines and for the environment.

We also made tremendous progress on sustainable biofuels from crops such as algae, jatropha and camalina. They are a tested reality. Airlines will use 66 billion gallons of fuel this year. By 2020 we want 6% of this to be sustainable biofuel. Governments must now set the legal and fiscal framework to facilitate this process.


The industry also set targets to improve fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5% annually to 2020; cap net emissions from 2020 with carbon neutral growth; and cut our net emissions in half by 2050 compared to 2005.

We are ahead of all other global industries and of our regulators. When I presented this to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, he commended aviation as a role model.

Working with Governments

To achieve our targets, industry and government must work together. The Kyoto protocol entrusted ICAO to manage aviation’s international emissions. Christiana Figueres, the Executive Director of the UNFCCC, confirmed and encouraged ICAO’s leadership role, and the cooperation between ICAO, IATA and UNFCCC is outstanding.

At last month’s ICAO Assembly its 190 member states achieved an historic resolution. They agreed to work with industry to improve fuel efficiency by 2% annually, to cap emissions from 2020, and to develop a global framework for economic measures.

This resolution is inclusive and mindful of the differing needs of developed and developing nations. This is the first and only global agreement by governments to manage the emissions of an industrial sector. Congratulations to all States on this great achievement.


I look forward to joining ICAO to present the progress of this sector at COP-16 in Cancun.

I will conclude my remarks with a preview of the four messages from industry to governments.

  • First, support emissions reductions with improvements in air traffic management.
  • Second, keep focused on a global approach. Reject ineffective regional schemes, and concentrate on developing a global framework for economic measures under ICAO.
  • Third, do not use the industry as a cash cow. Consider aviation’s important role as an economic catalyst.
  • And fourth, promote this sector’s achievements as a role model for others.

Aviation will go to Cancun with its homework done, under the leadership of ICAO, and with the support of UNFCCC.

Aviation is committed to achieving results. We count on your continued support to remain at the forefront of industries dealing with climate change.