8 JULY 2019

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Article from BTNews 8 JULY 2019

COMMENT: Stand up for sustainability

It is an unfortunate consequence of having a free press that those who make the most noise often get the biggest headlines, usually with far less justification than those who just quietly get on with the job.

Once upon a time, journalistic training emphasised the rule that any report should be fair and balanced. With the rise in social media, goodbye to all that. Fake news rules.

Which brings us to climate change. Yes, we need to take heed. Yes, we need to change some of our habits. And yes, contrary to millennial hysteria, many of us are conscious of the need to safeguard the world we are leaving to our children. But the subject is not being ignored and in aviation, seen however unjustifiably as one of the leading offenders, more is going on than is being acknowledged. So let’s make some noise of our own.

As reported in this issue, last week’s Aviation Reception at the House of Commons was all about working toward a greener future. The event is a high-level annual gathering put together by Airlines UK among others and attended this year by the new aviation minister, Baroness Vere, with assorted industry VIPs.

Front and centre was the Sustainable Aviation (SA) consortium of UK airlines, airports, manufacturers and air navigation service providers, with a statement on progress so far on how the industry in the UK can tackle the twin challenges of climate commitments and growing passenger demand.

Noting some success so far, the group also said SA believed there were immediate untapped opportunities to tackle emissions. One was the introduction of sustainable aviation fuels, which could reduce emissions in 2050 by nearly 25% and make the UK a world-leader in the technology; a second was critical airspace modernisation, which was currently under way.

These are things going on now. Raise your hand if you’ve missed it in the popular press as it concentrates on Extinction Rebellion and the rest.

There is more to come. As the SA report also noted, carbon reduction is a global issue requiring a global response, which is why the group is urging the minister to continue engaging with the matter through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The object was to agree a worldwide long-term emissions reduction target consistent with the requirements of the Paris Agreement to build upon the global carbon-offsetting scheme CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation).

From 2021, this will allow aviation to compensate for the emissions it cannot yet eliminate by paying for high-quality, independently verified emissions savings in other areas.

SA chairman Neil Robinson urged everyone to keep up the momentum: “We want to work with government to see what more we can and should do to enable aviation to go further and faster in reducing our emissions,” he said. “That includes modernising UK airspace, investing in the creation of low-carbon technologies and delivering Sustainable Aviation Fuels at scale.”

As Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate put it in his ON THE SOAPBOX column for BTN last week: “Now, more than ever before, people are aware of their impact on the environment and want to travel sustainably and support businesses which strive for more sustainable operations.

“This has been an area of great focus for Gatwick. Our Decade of Change programme, which we launched in 2010, set ambitious targets for the airport across key areas from energy consumption to carbon emissions – all for us to deliver by 2020.

“Last week, we published our report for 2018 and I’m proud to see further progress. From achieving a 7% reduction in the airport’s noise footprint compared to 2017 to increasing waste reuse and recycling to 64%, Gatwick continues to make strides forward.

“We’ll be continuing to invest and develop Gatwick, with another £1.1bn due to be spent up to 2023. We are in the process of finalising our master plan, which looks ahead to the next 15 years of airport development and, as we look forward to the final year of our Decade of Change programme, we fully anticipate sustainable operations and growth will remain a top priority.”

(See also Aviation renews pledge on emissions in this issue).

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum


S. Sellers, USA/Seattle

The IPCC is extremely clear. Failure to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 will place our planet at extreme risk and cause great harm to billions of people. Richard boasts about a potential 25% reduction in emissions by 2050. This is simply laughable given the science. Climate change will not be solved on a timetable of convenience to the aviation industry (or any other industry). Aviation is moving far, far too slowly to address climate change and deserves bad press. Those reading this article absolutely should be worried about this industry’s image and future.


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