Managing the aviation industry’s contribution to climate change is a priority.

IATA marked its 74th anniversary on April 19. Our founding members gave their association a very clear mission: “To promote safe, regular, and economical air transport for the benefit of the people of the world, to foster air commerce, and to study the problems connected therewith.”

It is unlikely that anybody present at IATA’s founding in Havana, Cuba all those years ago could have foreseen the amazing growth and technological advancements in civil aviation that followed. But they did have a prescient understanding that the development of air transport would have a positive impact on people. And they were absolutely right.

Aviation has evolved to be an essential part of modern life for many—so much so that life without the freedom that flying enables is nearly unthinkable.

Avoiding climate calamity will force change in how we live. But there is no shame in experiencing our world through flight

All indications are that the demand to fly will double over the next two decades. Much of that will be from the developing world. The rapidly expanding middle class will want the same opportunities to explore our planet that are taken for granted in developed markets.

Aviation’s license to fulfill these opportunities, however, is under acute pressure in Europe. In Sweden a term has even been invented—Flygskam—to shame those who travel by plane with the goal of limiting flying.

This conclusion would be tragic. Flying is freedom. Confining people’s horizons to train distances or boat speeds back-steps on a century of worldwide progress. Relying on virtual meetings to make global connections ignores the feelings and sensations that make us human. And denying our natural inclinations to explore and experience would mean that we can never fully appreciate the amazing people and places that make up the world in which we live.

Avoiding climate calamity will force change in how we live. But there is no shame in experiencing our world through flight. Our world is a better place because aviation has turned our big planet into a connected community. That is something of which we should be proud!

That’s why a sustainable future for aviation is the focus of our industry agenda. We demand that governments are more pro-active on the biggest opportunity to quickly and dramatically reduce aviation’s carbon footprint—the commercialization of sustainable aviation fuels. In parallel, we continuously challenge ourselves as an industry to drive efficiencies and develop cleaner technologies. And we are working holistically with policy-makers to ensure that the benefits and opportunities of a connected world are sustainably available to future generations.

Alexandre de Juniac: Director General and CEO, IATA