An agreement by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) co-signed September 23rd by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and several other international aviation groups at the United Nations Climate Change Summit pledges to stabilize the growth of carbon emissions from aircraft by 2020 and reduce carbon emissions to 2005 levels by 2050. This agreement is consistent with ALPA’s longstanding commitment to sound environmental aviation policy. Advanced biofuels, a national airline policy that allows U.S. airlines to invest in modern, energy efficient aircraft, and the advancement of NextGen technology to reduce flight miles flown and optimize operations will play key roles in meeting these targets.
The aviation industry is a leader in voluntary emissions reductions over the last few decades. U.S. airlines improved fuel efficiency by 120% between 1978-2013, which has resulted in 3.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide savings in that period. Advancements in efficient aircraft design, air traffic control technology and procedures, and other measures have led to these savings. Despite these gains there is a push by some environmental groups towards regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit emissions, in lieu of an international solution which ALPA supports.
Another component of the agreement to reduce carbon emissions from aviation is the commercialization of advanced biofuels. Congress must end the ideological battles and support the progress made by the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture in their partnerships with the private sector to commercialize advanced biofuels. The National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress will consider after the elections, is a vehicle to promote the availability of advanced biofuels for the aviation industry at competitive prices. By allowing the private sector to engage with these Departments to develop advanced biofuels that are viable for aviation use, we will likely see such a product available for commercial aviation use much sooner – a win for all.
ALPA urges governments around the world to recognize that our mutual goal of reducing emissions from aircraft, while protecting the ability of aviation to maintain its ability to drive the global economy, rests with an international solution now in motion at ICAO. Unilateral actions to limit emissions by any government threaten the ability of global stakeholders to achieve the agreed upon goals as stated at the U.N. Summit on Climate Change.