Aviation industry strives for carbon-neutral growth by 2020

11 June 2009

The airline industry aims to achieve carbon-neutral growth by 2020, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Monday.

“Two years ago we set a vision to achieve carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future. Today we have taken a major step forward by committing to a global cap on our emissions in 2020” said IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani at the 65th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

“After this dare, aviation’s emissions will not grow even as demand increases. Airlines are the first global industry to make such a bold commitment”

In a released statement, IATA said the industry’s commitment for carbon-neutral growth involved three sequential goals.

These included a 1.5% average annual improvement in fuel efficiency from 2009 to 2020, carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and a 50% absolute reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

The goals are to be achieved through a cross industry four-pillar strategy that will concentrate on improving technology, effective operations, efficient infrastructure and positive economic measures.

However, Bisignani stressed that the success of the carbon-neutral growth was “contingent on governments acting effectively”

“ICAO must set binding carbon emissions standards on manufacturers for new aircraft. A legal and fiscal framework to support the availability of sustainable biofuels must be established.

He added that governments needed to work with air navigation service providers to push forward major infrastructure projects such as a Single European Sky, NextGen in the US or fixing the Pearl River Delta in China.

The carbon footprint of the aviation industry is expected to fall 7 percent this year, of which 5 percent is attributed to the recession and the remainder due to IATA’s efforts.

Governments across the globe will gather during December this year in Copenhagen for a UN climate change meeting and post-Kyoto discussions.