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Aviation Summit calls for global framework on emissions reductions

iisd. The 6th Aviation and Environment Summit, recently held in Geneva, Switzerland, concluded with the adoption of an industry declaration titled “Aviation Benefits Beyond Boundaries,” as a joint message to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The Summit was co-sponsored by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the Airports Council International (ACI), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Coordinating Council for Aerospace Industries Association (ICCAIA).

In the “Aviation Benefits Beyond Boundaries” declaration, industry leaders commit to continue to deliver on its short-term promise to increase fuel efficiency by 1.5% per year through 2020, and broaden their commitment to advancing and strengthening the pillars of sustainable development by continuing to:

  • provide an air transport sector that is a key socioeconomic contributor to the world economy;
  • provide high-value jobs;
  • invest in skills and training;
  • maintain a high level of investment in research and development;
  • and demonstrate environmental leadership by delivering on their goal to cap net aircraft carbon emissions from 2020 and work to achieve a 50% reduction in net carbon emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

The declaration calls on governments to:

  • continue investing in research for development and the implementation of green technologies and operational practices;
  • act to advance highly-efficient air traffic control capacity;
  • encourage the use of alternative renewable energy, in particular aviation biofuels, by providing appropriate policies and incentives;
  • continue the development of sustainable airport infrastructure;
  • provide a positive regulatory environment; and
  • reach an agreement at ICAO for a global framework to reduce emissions from aircraft operations using technology development, efficient operations and infrastructure, and the use of international market-based measures to address any remaining emissions gap.

In a keynote address, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism, South Africa, called on Europe to suspend the integration of civil aviation into its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for two years, in order to give time for the development of a global framework under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).



" suspend the integration of civil aviation into its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for two years, in order to give time for the development of a global framework under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)."

I would say my dear chap, instead of asking others to delay, hurry up the delivery your fancy framework. And then ask the EU whether they might consider that it is sufficient to achieve the necessary goals and remove aviation from the ETS.


Things happen so slowly in aviation - I guess it is all the regulation and safety concerns.

The A320 Neo is about 15% more efficient than the A320 "classic", but it took 25 years to get to the design, and it will be about 28 years between the A320 and Neo flying.

One thing is that the A320 was already so good, but 25 year generations are a bit long.

There is stuff they can do in terms of ATC, in particular allowing them to ascend and descend more smoothly (not going in 1000 feet jumps, and more direct routing, but you have to watch safety.

Also, they could pack more people onto the existing planes, by using thinner seats (really) - certainly for short haul.

A lot of the airport infrastructure could go electric (at the same pace as the rest of the world), but the flying bit is a problem.

However, if the cost of fuel stays high, they will start to fix it - probably the real reason the A320 (and all other planes) have changed so little is that fuel has been relatively cheap since about 1980.

However, it looks like this may no longer be the case.


The certification system which has made aviation enviably safe also makes change glacially slow.

There are concepts which could use a fraction of the fuel of today's aircraft.  I would not be surprised if a company like Scaled Composites could build a prototype of a "double bubble" fuselage airliner at a very reasonable cost, but certifying the airframe for passenger traffic would take a massive expense over years.

For too long we've been able to ignore the tradeoff here.  I wouldn't be surprised if the public would accept a higher accident rate for affordable access to air travel (via radical fuel savings), but the system is not set up to allow that choice.

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