It's not often you hear an airline arguing for more legislation (unless it's to do with airports and their charges), but easyJet chief executive Andy Harrison is suggesting exactly that in the carrier's latest salvo on aviation emissions.
EasyJet has been a vocal proponent of tackling aviation's impact on climate change through new technology, notably developing its own eco-friendly aircraft design concept a couple of years ago to demonstrate the potential. Now, in a briefing ahead of the key EU climate change summit in Copenhagen next month, Harrison says legislation is needed to phase out the use of older aircraft and to fast-track development of the next generation technology.
"We need to set minimum standards of emissions from aircraft," he says, suggesting this is the key tool to remove older generation aircraft from the current world fleet.
"We think emissions trading is good, we think a global scheme would be good, but it's not going to happen for decades. And even if it happens, it is not the most important lever to pull," he says, noting emissions trading impacts airlines but not manufacturers. "We want to bring forward the next generation of technology."
Harrison proposes minimum emissions standards be implemented in three steps
• All new aircraft types to meet the standards by 2015
• Airlines to no longer add new aircraft that don't meet the standard by 2024
• Airlines to be barred from operating these aircraft by 2030
While this is timetable is based on short-haul aircraft, Harrison believes a similar phased approach could apply to long-haul aircraft.
"The pressure needs to be brought to bear on the people who manufacture aircraft. These companies are under no pressure to bring forward the next generation of aircraft," he says, noting noises from manufacturers on a narrowbody successor are now not before 2020. "If we are not careful we will find the next generation of aircraft will not be flying before 2030. It requires a much stronger approach. They [legislators] must introduce minimum standards of efficiency; otherwise I don't think that aviation will play its role in tackling climate change."
We can expect to see plenty more of this as airlines try to influence the debate on aviaiton emissions and press the case for sustainable growth of the sector ahead of Copenhagen next month. IATA, together with other industry associations, has been pushing for a common approach through ICAO. Read more on this here.