Partnerships with the private sector:
Climate change


Talks to reduce aircraft global-warming emissions

How to reduce global-warming emissions from aircraft? Trading schemes that effectively put up the price of an airline ticket to pay for the right to use someone else's emission quota are one possible answer, along with new aircraft and engine technologies, improved air traffic control and shorter air routes. But the major problem until now has been how states could incorporate international aviation into emissions trading schemes.

In February 2007 the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)'s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) reached international consensus on guidance for states planning to incorporate such flights into their trading schemes.

Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of the airlines' Geneva- and Montreal-based International Air Transport Association (IATA), hailed it as a major step forward. But emissions trading cannot be the whole answer, he pointed out: «Emissions trading schemes only make sense with efficient infrastructure The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that there is 12% inefficiency in air traffic management globally. This means we produce up to 73 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year by aircraft flying inefficiently due to air traffic management limitations,» he stated.

He noted: «Last year, IATA's efforts to optimize aircraft operations alone saved up to 15 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Government commitment to environmental issues must go beyond emissions trading to investments in infrastructure and technology. We need a global approach that provides a level playing field for airlines and avoids competitive distortions.»

These are the kinds of questions discussed at the Aviation and Environment Summit organized under the umbrella of the Geneva-based Air Transport Action Group (ATAG). The second summit held in Geneva in 2006, bringing together more than 300 aviation leaders from 40 countries, pointed to technology as one key to further progress. More efficient engines and lighter materials are emerging, together with environmentally-friendly biofuels that could also be part of the solution, the summit participants suggested.

ATAG is also leading a global cross-industry communications initiative on behalf of the entire air transport industry. The purpose is to provide clear information to the general public about aviation's commitment to environmental improvement The website address is

In light of earlier successes, a third Aviation and Environment Summit - the only event during which the industry brings together all its key players to consider environmental impacts and develop strategies to address them - has been scheduled to take place in Geneva in April 2008.