April 15, 2011
Last week’s piece ‘EU’s airline emission goals under scrutiny‘ suggested there was confusion in the media after the European Commission launched the 2050 vision for transport in Europe.
I can’t account for why the media seemed confused, but it seems to us that the Commission’s vision regarding aviation seems to be realistic, pragmatic and is only surpassed by the ambitions of the industry itself.
Aviation is in fact the only industry to commit to a set of global emissions reduction targets to cap the growth of its net carbon emissions from 2020 and halve its net emissions by 2050 compared to 2005. These are global goals, rather than Europe-wide targets, but the European Commission’s 34% reduction for aviation is certainly achievable – through a joint effort of industry and policymakers.
Aviation is a vital ingredient in the connectivity of European citizens and an irreplaceable conduit of trade and tourism around the world. While it contributes to 8% of global GDP, aviation represents 2% of man-made CO2 emissions. We acknowledge that this is still too much, and we agree with the Commission that efforts to reduce emissions from aviation require operational, technology and infrastructure investments – both in the air and on the ground. A key area for such investments is biofuels.
Indeed, biofuels present a major opportunity for the aviation industry to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. Technically, we know they can work – we have flown six test flights so far and will this year start operating passenger services on a mix of biofuels and regular kerosene: now comes investment and commercialisation.
We are confident that a commercially viable and, importantly, sustainable supply will provide at least the 40% of the fuel mix identified by the Commission in 2050. To achieve this objective, incentives should be in place for those producing sustainable aviation biofuel, and for the airlines which will need to purchase it. Biofuels should also be primarily reserved for aviation, as there are no viable alternative energy sources for the sector (while the car industry can shift to electricity or hydrogen, for instance).
To understand the breadth and depth of the various projects undertaken across the industry, information is available on www.enviro.aero. From this site, you will see that we have our plans in place and a clear vision.
Air Transport Action Group