The air transport industry has committed to reduce total emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050.

By Patrick Appleton

Airlines are doing the right things to combat climate change and keep the world connected, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aviation is responsible for 2% of global manmade carbon emissions.

Speaking at IATA’s Global Media Day in Geneva, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said air transport is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and called on other industries to follow suit.

Carbon is the enemy, not flying. IATA’s goal is to keep the world flying sustainably and with pride

“As with any human activity there is an environmental impact,” he acknowledged. “Aircraft burn fuel and that releases carbon.

“As the world focuses on cutting carbon to avoid a climate calamity, all industries need to step up. 

“Aviation made serious climate action commitments in 2008—long before the word ‘flygskam’ entered our vocabulary.”

The air transport industry has committed to reduce total emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050, and is offsetting emissions from 2020 through the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) scheme.

De Juniac urged governments and industry to support and facilitate CORSIA’s aim of helping aviation to grow sustainably in the years ahead.

“Let me be clear. Carbon is the enemy, not flying. Our goal is to keep the world flying sustainably and with pride,” he said.

“We need to make sure that CORSIA is successful and not compromised by a patchwork of competing taxes and charges.”

IATA also offset the event by estimating delegates’ travel and energy consumption in attending the two-day event. The calculations will be added to IATA’s offsetting activity with Climate Care, which supports three carbon-reducing projects:

  • Lifestraw saves 2.4 million tonnes of carbon annually by providing safe drinking water to 4.5 million Kenyans
  • Gyapa delivers efficient cook stoves in Ghana, saving 3 million tonnes of carbon to date
  • Kasigau helps to preserve 500,000 of endangered forest in Kenya

De Juniac said that alongside the work of CORSIA and offsetting projects, a focus on driving technology and policy solutions will support the challenge of sustainable.

Sustainable aviation fuels also have a key role to play—with the potential to cut airlines’ carbon footprint by up to 80%—and must be an immediate area of focus, added de Juniac.

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