Towards a greener aviation industry

The aviation industry is not in carbon “denial” (Stop Heathrow expansion to save the planet, Editorial, 24 June). We are carbon emitters – and we are making huge efforts to reduce our 2% share of global carbon emissions. In 2009 we set tough CO2 targets, including carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050. Achieving these aims will bring aviation in line with the Paris climate target. Taxation is a red herring – not a penny of the billions raised in air passenger duty has been ringfenced for environmental action.

Your editorial was dismissive of offsetting, hybrid and electric aviation, and sustainable fuels, but these are precisely the innovations that will reduce each traveller’s carbon footprint. Governments should work urgently with the aviation industry to prioritise bringing these forward. Rather than seek to punish those who fly, the focus should be on giving more people the opportunity to sustainably travel and do business around the world.
Alexandre de Juniac
Director general and CEO, International Air Transport Association, Geneva, Switzerland

UK aviation fully recognises the urgency of the climate crisis, and the need for us to do more. In 2009, aviation committed globally to a 50% emissions reduction by 2050 compared to 2005. We’ve seen real progress: cleaner aircraft and smarter flying has resulted in a 3.5% emissions reduction in UK aviation emissions between 2005-2017, while passenger numbers grew 25%. Our long-term plan to decarbonise includes many exciting technological innovations, like electric aircraft, but it is right that these aren’t the full answer. So we are making changes to how we operate. UK airspace – designed in the 1950s – is finally being modernised, using satellite-based navigation to fly more direct routes. This would reduce UK aviation’s emissions by up to 10% by (while cutting delays and reducing noise)2050. BA and Virgin Atlantic are investing in sustainable aviation fuels, made from landfill waste and waste industrial gasses respectively. These result in 70% less lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than fossil jet fuel and will be a vital “bridge” to electric aircraft. We already are part of “a global commitment” to “limit catastrophic temperature rises”: through the UN’s CORSIA offsetting scheme international aviation emissions will be capped at 2020 levels. Crucially, CORISA will facilitate further international steps consistent with the Paris agreement.

Our journey towards carbon-neutral aviation will not be easy, but ultimately, the choice between a thriving aviation sector and protecting our climate is a false one.
Tim Alderslade Chief executive, Airlines UK
Karen Dee Chief executive, Airport Operators Association

Simon Jenkins (Heathrow’s third runway plan beggars belief, 20 June) focused on the volume of leisure and commercial travel. He omitted the third source of passengers, and one that, while it fits the airlines’ business model, offers very few benefits to west Londoners and south-east England in general. According to Heathrow’s own data, a total of 80.1 million passengers used the airport in 2018, of whom 24 million, or almost one third, were in transit. While transit passengers by definition contribute little to the massive infrastructure and disruption linked to the project’s road transport plan, they add little to the overall economy other than the sale of millions of coffees, over-priced meals and duty-free booze and fags. This is a high price for increased air and noise pollution and blighted housing stock for – as Mr Jenkins notes – a 20th-century edifice that may well be redundant before the first aircraft lands on the new runway.
Gavin Greenwood

Join the debate – email [email protected]

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit

Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition

Source: Read Full Article