Environmental concerns – a lot of hot air?

The irony of delegates flying in from all over the world to attend last week’s conference on aviation and the environment in Geneva was not lost on Ken McAnergney, manager of airport planning at New Zealand’s Christchurch Airport, who added that the volume of paperwork he had been given while at the conference would be adding considerably to his weight on the return trip. He was speaking at the second Aviation & Environment Summit that brought together air transport industry players with an interest in the environment including airlines, airports, airframe and engine manufacturers, air navigation services providers and fuel suppliers.
Air transport is generally accepted to contribute 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions at current rates and is a popular target for environmentalists. “Are we to be social outcasts just because we work for the aviation industry?” asks Alexander ter Kuile of air navigation service body CANSO.
Challenging times indeed for an industry that is enjoying a growth rate of 5% a year but is also facing increased pressure to improve its environmental performance.
Tim Johnson of the UK-based Aviation Environment Federation warns: “The rate of growth is the fundamental problem. Technological solutions measured over time are significant, but they do not offset the growth rate.”
Emissions trading may be part of the solution, but as Giovanni Bisignani of IATA points out: “A global approach is essential and ICAO must take the lead. There is no time to get distracted by local schemes.”
Eurocontrol director general Victor Aguado agrees that emissions trading is one way of controlling the effect of aviation on the environment, but sees network efficiency as another vital method. “Emissions trading is just one element in reducing CO2 emissions, but it doesn’t solve the problem,” he insists. “Network efficiency is the key action for the future.”
For a  more detailed roundup of the views expressed at the conference look out for June’s Airline Business Insight pages.

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