International Air Transport Association


For immediate release

Date: 24 May 2009   No: 20



Reducing Aviation’s Emissions
-IATA Calls for a Global Sectoral Approach-

Copenhagen - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reiterated aviation’s commitment to responsibly addressing the challenges of climate change and called on governments to deliver a global and sectoral approach to reducing aviation emissions in Kyoto 2.

“Air transport is a global industry with a good track record and ambitious targets for environmental performance. But to achieve them, we need governments to take a global approach,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO in a statement to the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

Bisignani called on governments to define a sectoral approach in Kyoto 2 with global accounting for aviation’s emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and open access for airlines to properly regulated carbon markets. Such an approach would maintain a level playing field for all airlines and replace overlapping national and regional schemes.

A global approach is already underpinned with three ambitious industry targets: (1) a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency by 2020 compared to 2005, (2) to use 10% alternative fuels by 2017 and (3) a 50% absolute reduction in emissions by 2050. “We are already working to set an important fourth target: a date for carbon-neutral growth beyond which our emissions will not grow even as demand increases,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani gave a progress report on the aviation industry’s efforts to reduce emissions. “Aviation’s emissions will fall by 8% this year. Some 6% of this is from the recession and 2% is directly related to IATA’s four-pillar strategy,” said Bisignani.

Pillar 1 Technology: Fuel efficiency improved 70% over the past forty years, 23% in the last decade alone. This is mainly due to better aircraft and engines.
Pillars 2 Operations: “How we fly makes a difference. IATA’s Green Teams are working with airlines around the world to implement best practices. This work is now saving around 30 million tonnes of CO2 each year,” said Bisignani.
Pillar 3 Infrastructure:  IATA’s work to shorten routes is saving at least a further 30 million tonnes of CO2.
Pillar 4 Positive Economic Measures: Some 30 airlines have carbon offset programs. In June, IATA will launch an industry offset program so airlines can offer this option even more broadly.

Biofuels: Bisignani made special note of the industry progress on biofuels. “One of the most exciting recent developments is the progress being made in sustainable next generation biofuels. These have the potential to reduce our carbon footprint by up to 80%. Three years ago nobody thought biofuels could be applied to aviation. Four successful test flights in the last year prove that biofuels work. For the first time aviation could have a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Airlines did this work without government involvement. But we could achieve much more, much faster, with a fiscal and legal framework to accelerate research and reward investment. Governments must get on board,” Bisignani said.

“Working with governments, a united industry - airlines, airports, manufacturer and air navigation service provider - made air transport the safest way to travel. By working together with a coordinated global approach we can make aviation the first global industry to achieve carbon-neutral growth and a model for others to follow,” said Bisignani.

View Giovanni Bisignani's speech


Anthony Concil
Director Corporate Communications
Tel: +41 22 770 2967

Notes for editors:

International Air Transport Association
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