I recently highlighted two aviation conferences as part of my Paddy’s Day blog about the latest parade of industry greening efforts - the Green Skies Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, and the Eco-Aviation Conference in Washington DC. The events were scheduled to occur one month apart, starting with Green Skies on 21-23 May. Fast-forward a week-and-a-half, and Green Skies has been shelved for now, while Eco-Aviation is still firmly planted.
I asked my friend, founder of the Green Skies consultancy Michael Miller to discuss the reasons why such an actively-promoted conference was no longer in the books. Did the choice of Orlando as a venue, for example, hurt the event? Regulators who will decide environmental law are, after all, in DC.
Such an assessment, he says, would be inaccurate. “We've postponed the event this year because of the down economy and the desire by many companies to trim their conference budgets,” says Miller. “Green Skies will resume next year when the timing may be better. We're 100% committed to this effort and helping aviation become greener.”
To that end, Green Skies launched a new program this week called "Hug an Airline, Hug an Airport" in conjunction with branding firm Aerobrand that analyzes how going green can boost your brand and win new business. “It's very exciting and we already have an airline exploring this,” says Miller.
Personally, I have a few ideas on which airlines need the biggest hug (someone's 40-year-old DC-9s come to mind). If you've got your own thoughts on this one, please feel free to add your comment below. But I digress. For folks who are still keen to participate in a green aviation conference this year, Eco-Aviation is readying for its 18-20 June event at the Capital Hilton.
Backers of the conference say regulators, manufacturers, airlines, and airports will be in attendance (Airbus and Boeing are confirmed speakers). “What more do you need to find out what’s happening in Eco-Aviation?” asks the conference brochure. Here is what you can expect from Eco-Aviation in its own words:
Eco-Aviation: Making it Work for Airlines and the Planet
“It’s here and it’s real. Although the world's airlines contribute very little to global greenhouse gas emissions, the industry needs to respond proactively and positively to mitigate, offset and reduce its impact on the environment.
That's not only common sense, it's a business necessity, owing to rising public concern over global warming and the impact that the continued growth of commercial aviation will have on climate change in future. Airlines in Europe are enduring punitive taxes and fees and will come under Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme in four years.
The time for ignoring the problem has passed. Eco-Aviation is a reality for airlines in Europe and it's coming to America. The Environmental Protection Agency already is evaluating a petition from environmental groups and five states asking it to regulate aircraft engine emissions. Congress is mulling legislation to bring airlines under a cap and trade regulation by 2012. Airlines here need to get ahead of the issues if they want to be participate in the solution rather than have it imposed from outside. The industry has a good story to tell but it needs to be better.
Eco-Aviation is about more than just greenhouse gas emissions. It’s about recycling onboard trash after a flight. It’s about using low-emission fuels for airport ground equipment. It’s about industrial recycling in the airframe manufacturing process. It’s about alternative fuels for the aircraft.
Eco-Aviation has come to the USA
While European carriers have been confronting Eco-Aviation for years, US airlines have been preoccupied with returning to profitability, bankruptcies and security. But on December 5, 2007, a petition was filed with the US Environmental Protection Agency requesting the EPA adopt mandatory rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft.
The Agency has 180 days to respond to the petition—making this conference the timeliest conference in the USA on the subject."