The aviation industry should find a balance between growth, which brings significant economic and social benefits, and acting in an environmentally responsible manner, according to Michael Gill, director of aviation environment at the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
Currently the aviation industry contributes about 2% of all human carbon emissions in the world – about 700-million tonnes a year.
He said the first goal of the aviation industry should be to improve fuel efficiency across fleets by an average of 1.5% a year until 2020. The industry is actually ahead of this goal, he said, with an average fuel efficiency improvement of 2.9% a year.
He pointed out that many countries were aiming to create carbon neutral aviation growth to ensure sustainable trade and tourism in the future.
According to Gill, the aim of the aviation industry was to halve its carbon emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 and, according to Iata, aviation partners were already working together to put in place the building blocks to achieve this goal.
Gill said there were four pillars that underpinned the aviation industry’s approach to sustainability. These were investing in new technology, using more efficient operational techniques to make individual flights more efficient, building and using more efficient infrastructure and using effective global market-based measures.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation was, for instance, developing a certification standard for carbon emissions of aircraft.
“Our industry has set itself ambitious goals with necessary strategy to achieve them,” said Gill.
“Any form of mandatory carbon offsetting should deliver environmental integrity, be simple and transparent and be cost effective to the industry.”