Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner recently joined leaders from Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer, General Electric, Rolls-Royce and the world’s airlines in reaffirming their commitment to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions in coming years.
A total of 28 aviation leaders put forward their goals in a letter released by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), an industry trade group, in advance of United Nations’ environmental negotiations in Paris late this year. In the letter, executives for leading commercial aviation manufacturers, engine companies and trade groups for the world’s airlines and airports, said economic benefits of aviation must be balanced against the challenge to all industrial sectors to reduce emissions.
“Aviation already supports around 60 million jobs, a third of global trade by value and half of all international tourists,” the executives said in the letter. “Our mission is to continue to provide these benefits, particularly in the developing world, whilst at the same time cutting CO2 emissions.”
The companies reiterated the industry’s ambitious goals for CO2 emissions, which include 1.5 percent annual improvements in fuel efficiency for the global fleet, carbon-neutral growth starting from 2020 and a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 compared with 2005 levels. Fleet efficiency is improving by an estimated 2.9 percent per year, ahead of the 1.5 percent goal, industry groups have said. Improving fuel efficiency and reducing fuel use directly reduces carbon emissions.
At ATAG’s annual industry summit in Geneva, Julie Felgar, managing director of Commercial Airplanes’ Environmental Strategy and Integration team, which develops and integrates the company’s approach to reduce aviation’s environmental impact, highlighted Boeing’s significant environment-related investments while also meeting customers’ needs.
“Boeing airplanes use 70 percent less fuel now compared with the start of the Jet Age through technology alone,” said Felgar. Looking ahead, in addition to further evolution of airplane technologies, she emphasized the importance of sustainable aviation biofuel, which reduces CO2 emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to fossil fuel through its lifecycle.
“There is widespread support for change but if the aviation industry is to sustain its commitment to future generations, the process of commercializing alternative aviation fuels needs to speed up, and that’s also what Boeing is investing in,” Felgar said.
ATAG’s summit brought together key industry stakeholders, as well as non-governmental organizations, regulators and environmental groups to exchange views before two key events: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Paris in December and the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) next year, where governments are targeting agreement on a global market-based measure, such as carbon trading or carbon offsets for greenhouse-gas emissions, for aviation.
“Aviation was the first transport sector that set global goals to proactively manage its climate change impact, in 2008” said Brian Moran, Boeing president, EU and NATO Relations. “With Boeing now in its 100th year of business, it is ever more crucial that it sustains its position as leader in environmental innovation—something that our customers, and passengers, expect of us.”
By Katerina Giannini, Jessica Kowal