Aircraft and engine manufacturers have invested billions in research and development of new generation products. Read More » Airlines are spending tens of billions buying these aircraft because they fly more efficiently. As a result, there is a dramatic reduction in fuel and maintenance which in turn has brought about a massive drop in CO2 emissions.
The industry takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. Its acceptance and support for CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) is proof of that.
From the beginning of this year all airlines have been recording their emissions in preparation for the official introduction of CORSIA next year. Aviation is the only global industry to agree to a global market-based measure to counter climate change damage.
It is forecast CORSIA will mitigate around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035, an annual average of 164 million tonnes. Yet, despite years of effort, there is little recognition of this important progress.
In general, the public still seems to believe aviation is a polluter and that the industry is doing nothing to be otherwise. There have even been calls in Europe for governments to ban short haul flights and for people to opt for land transport.
At the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Seoul in June, director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, pointed out public concern about environment issues had spiked worldwide. One example was Europe, where Sweden is the birthplace of “flight shaming” of those who travel by air.
“Unchallenged, this sentiment will grow and spread,” he said, and added that along with reducing emissions, the industry must collectively tell its story more effectively. He is, of course, right. Airline chief executives at the AGM asked why the general public does not know more about the enlightened approach the industry has to mitigating climate change.
Airlines could start with their passengers, a captive audience. More than 4 billion passengers took an airplane journey last year and 4.9 billion passengers are forecast to take to the air in 2019. The industry could tell the good story of aviation’s pro-active strategy for cutting CO2 emissions via seat back literature or screened videos aboard commercial flights.
It is an idea that should be adopted immediately by airlines around the world. No one is pretending global warming is a myth. But carriers must get out their story that they are serious about reducing emissions to prevent irreparable damage to their businesses.
Associate editor and chief correspondent
Orient Aviation Media Group