Ethical Performance
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Airlines sector makes pre-Copenhagen commitment

November 2009

Airlines, airports and aircraft manufacturers have said they will halve the aviation industry’s carbon emissions by 2050.
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh announced the agreement on the International Air Transport Association’s behalf to world leaders at the recent United Nations climate change forum in New York.
Other proposals submitted by Walsh for the industry include:
  making all aviation growth carbon-neutral by 2020
  cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 per cent every year for the next decade
  a global carbon trading scheme.

If the UN accepts the proposals they will be on the agenda at next month’s climate change conference in Copenhagen.

The commitment comes after the Aviation Global Deal Group, a coalition of airlines, said carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation ‘must be integrated within [any] agreement, at a sectoral level’ in Copenhagen (EP10, issue 11, p3).

British Airways has warned, however, that such a scheme would add about £3billion ($4.9bn) annually to industry costs, which would be passed on to passengers through higher fares. The association represents 230 airlines comprising 93 per cent of scheduled international air traffic.
Independently, a coalition including airlines, air traffic control groups and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has also taken steps to cut airport emissions and noise.

It has drawn up an interim Departures Code of Practice which recommends that aeroplanes shut down one engine during taxi operations, thereby reducing fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions by 20 to 40 per cent. Cutting off one engine also significantly reduces noise levels.

The code has been produced by the Sustainable Aviation coalition, whose supporters include BAA, British Airways, easyJet, Monarch and Virgin Atlantic.

Jill Brady, Virgin Atlantic’s corporate responsibility director, said operators would be encouraged to switch off engines ‘when safe and operationally feasible to do so’.

Aviation accounts for 1.6 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but is predicted to become the biggest emitter in the developed world if it continues to grow unchecked.

International Air Transport Association | Global | Climate change

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