Aviation environment newswire

02 April 2008From the Wright Brothers to the right solutions
  • Edited testimony of Mr. Thomas S. Windmuller, SVP of IATA, to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, United States House of Representatives

"Climate change is a global challenge. The air transport industry is a small but significant part of that challenge.

According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aviation emits two percent of global CO2 dioxide emissions. That contribution could reach 3% of global emissions by 2050 under a ‘business as usual’ scenario. Put differently, in 2007, commercial air transport emitted 672 million tons of CO2, and would grow at less than 3% per annum if the industry were to continue on a normal path.1 That is, if we take no action, commercial aviation will represent 3% of global CO2 emissions in 42 years’ time. Thus, while any growth in emissions is of concern, the suggestion that aviation emissions are soaring is simply not accurate.

The fact is that IATA and the industry it represents are aggressively addressing the growth of aviation emissions. We are very aware of and take very seriously our environmental responsibilities. We are justifiably proud of our industry’s long history of environmental stewardship. Over the last forty years, the air transport industry has virtually eliminated black smoke from aircraft engines. It hasreduced its noise levels by 75%. Most importantly, it has improved its fuel efficiency by 75%, which represents a 70% reduction in CO2. No other domestic or international industry has such a strong environmental record.

Our commitment to fuel efficiency and cleaner aviation has allowed us to decouple traffic growth from emissions growth. Worldwide, air transport has grown at a rate of approximately 5% over the last 20 years and is forecast to do so in the future. Our emissions are growing well below that rate at less than 3% per annum. At the same time, commercial aviation represents 8% of global Gross Domestic Product. Any effort to limit emissions by capping the growth of air transport will have a negative impact on the global economy.

However good our record is, we cannot afford to rest on past accomplishments. We must continue to find ways to reduce our fuel burn and our CO2 emissions. We have a clear vision and a solid strategy in place to accomplish this task. In the near term we have committed to improve our fuel efficiency by another 25% by 2020, compared to 2005. This target is challenging, but our track record shows we can reach it. From 1997 to 2006, IATA members’ fleets improved their fuel efficiency by 20%. We will reach our new target by replacing old aircraft and by introducing new technology. The tools exist. This 25% improvement is a global target. Our American members, represented here by our colleagues of the Air Transport Association, have set themselves an even tougher target: 30% better fuel efficiency by 2025. Their leadership will serve as an example to the rest of the world.

In the medium term, we strive to reach carbon-neutral growth, i.e. that our anticipated growth does not result in an increase in CO2 emissions. In the longer term, we have offered vision of a zero-emissions commercial aviation industry. To that end, we aim to operate a zero-emissions aircraft in the next fifty years."

To read the full testimony of Mr. Thomas S. Windmuller, Senior Vice President, International Air Transport Association, to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming United States House of Representatives, click here.


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