The global aviation industry pledged on June 8 to halt the overall growth in aviation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, according to an article posted on the nomadslandpost Web site, June 10.
The International Air Transport Association, which represents more than 90% of international air traffic businesses, announced a target to level off aviation-related emissions and reach “carbon-neutral growth” through the use of improved fuel efficiency, biofuels and carbon offsets, the article reported.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations-connected organization that sets flight standards, projected last week [PDF] that global air traffic, measured in paying-passenger kilometers, will decline 4% in 2009 but grow at a rate of 3.3% in 2010 and 5.5% in 2011.
David Lee, director of the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University, estimates that aviation’s contribution to atmospheric warming in 2005 was nearly 5% . The IPCC had projected that the sector would not contribute a 5% emissions share until at least 2050.
A heavy reliance on biofuels would risk significant ethical, environmental, and technical issues however. The risks have led Lee to question whether biofuels should be burned in jet engines at all. “It would be more environmentally beneficial to ‘fill up’ the ground transportation sector first,” he said.
Industry leaders remain confident that emissions can be slowed, or at least offset, despite the growing contribution of aviation to climate change.
Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Center, has spearheaded a lawsuit that several environmental groups have brought against the U.S. government in an attempt to improve the fuel efficiency of airlines. She said that domestic measures, including fuel-efficiency standards or a carbon tax, should be considered in addition to global mechanisms.
“The level of emission reductions we need to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change is going to be a challenge…. So we need to use all the tools in the box,” Siegel said. “Domestic tools are completely compatible with international tools.” With air travel on the rise, Siegel added that government policies will not be sufficient.
“We need people taking less short-haul flights. Changing those transportation patterns is part of the solution,” she said. “We still have public awareness and political will [that are] far, far mismatched from the scientific urgency of the situation. I don’t think we’re going to have real solutions until we address that mismatch.”
To read the full article: nomadslandpost.com/2009/06/aviation-industry-outlines-ambitious-climate-goals/