Governments urged to work in collaboration with aviation to combat carbon emissions and aid industry sustainability.

Alexandre de Juniac

By Patrick Appleton

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac has said “carbon is the enemy, not flying” as aviation continues to receive criticism surrounding emissions levels.

Research has shown that the average journey by air emits 50% less carbon than it did in 1990, and IATA’s long-term goal is to cut total emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050.

However, some states continue to pursue aviation carbon tax policies that IATA’s Director General said does little to tackle emissions and inhibits the industry’s growth, affecting both consumers and the wider economy.

Unfortunately, there is a real risk that CORSIA will be undermined by governments piling on additional carbon pricing instruments

Speaking before the International Civil Aviation Organization’s 40th Assembly in Montreal, de Juniac called on governments to work together with aviation to combat carbon emissions.

“Flying is not the enemy. The enemy is carbon,” said de Juniac. 

“Connecting people globally is a great achievement that makes our world a better place, and long before this week’s demonstrations we have been working to cut carbon.”

IATA’s Director General and CEO said that the implementation of the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) requires a more cohesive approach from ICAO member states that signed the agreement in 2016.

CORSIA, which began in January, has been designed to help offset the growth of international aviation CO2 from 2020, alongside technological improvements, further use of sustainable aviation fuels and infrastructure advances aimed at reducing the sector’s carbon emissions.

“The whole aviation industry welcomed this significant commitment as part of the overall approach to meaningfully mitigate the industry’s climate change impact,” de Juniac said.

“Unfortunately, there is a real risk that CORSIA will be undermined by governments piling on additional carbon pricing instruments.”

De Juniac said that although governments brand such pricing instruments as “green taxes”, the industry has yet to see funds specifically allocated to reducing carbon.

“CORSIA was agreed as the single global economic measure to achieve carbon-neutral growth by generating $40 billion in climate funding and offsetting around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035. Governments need to focus on making that commitment a success,” he said.

IATA also submitted a working paper that called on governments to reaffirm the importance of CORSIA at ICAO’s Assembly and enter the program before it becomes mandatory in 2027, while sticking to the principle that aviation’s international emissions should be accounted for only once, with no duplication.

The working paper was developed in cooperation with Airports Council International (ACI), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA), and coordinated by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).