Airline Sector Aims For Zero Emissions By 2050

Industry needs a global plan and common approach to technology

The airline sector must aim for zero carbon-dioxide emissions by 2050, the International Air Transport Association industry association said earlier this week. "We have to move all forward in the same direction" toward reducing CO2 emissions to zero percent, the association said in Vancouver at the annual IATA conference.

However, the challenge met with some skepticism. "With the prospects of an increasing air traffic, between aging populations of OECD countries, emerging markets and continuing globalization of business activity, this can make us sweat," said Michael Levine, a researcher at New York University.

According to IATA, despite current efforts to reduce fuel consumption by 25% by 2020, the carbon footprint of the civil aviation industry will grow to 3% in 2050 from the current 2%. "There's no way we can pretend we're so special we have the right to pollute. But there is no sense to aim for zero percent. Our issue is to be responsible," Levine said.

IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani outlined a three-pronged effort needed to achieve the zero-emission goal: technology, aircraft makers and public authorities, regulators and governments. "When you consider clean-fuel technologies, we can already achieve some fuel efficiencies. It's up to governments to put all that together. We have to transform this vision into reality, working with the different actors of this industry. We need a global scheme, a common approach to technologies," Bisignani said.

On the aircraft manufacturing front, some advances toward greater fuel efficiency have been made in the next generation of aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus 350 and 380. "We're evolving on the right path," said Robert Milton, head of Air Canada.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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