Reducing Aviation’s Environmental Footprint

  • April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 – The AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) welcomes the fruitful debate held during a high-level lunch hosted by MEP and President of the Sky and Space Intergroup Monika Hohlmeier on the aviation’s way forward to reduce its environmental footprint.

Monika Hohlmeier, MEP, opened the discussion by highlighting that as a global actor, Europe plays a key role in international efforts to promote a sustainable environmental framework. “With doubling of flights expected until 2035, we need to strengthen our efforts in developing global solutions to curb carbon emissions from air travel” added Mrs Hohlmeier. She also stressed that addressing environmental issues and maintaining a competitive EU presence on the global market can and must go hand in hand, whereby environmental policy can play a key role in creating jobs.

Michael Gill, International Air Transport Association (IATA) Global Director for Environment, emphasised that aviation is the first and only industry so far to proactively come together and agree on a common strategy to address its CO2 emissions at a global level. In this respect, IATA applauded the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and its Member States for reaching an agreement on the first ever global Market Based Measure (MBM) aimed at tackling global civil aviation emissions. In this regard, Mr Gill highlighted the EU’s strong commitment in the ICAO process which will need to be translated into the full implementation of the Carbon offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) for all international flights, which includes under ICAO definition, intra-EU international flights. “CORSIA will reduce emissions by over 2.5 billion tons of CO2 between 2021 and 2035” emphasised Mr Gill. He also added: “our colleagues in the manufacturing sector are continually researching and developing new aircraft technology, with each new generation of aircraft and engine being roughly 20% more efficient than the previous models. However, to meet the 2050 targets of emissions reduction, we also need the support of policy makers to provide a favorable regulatory environment and investment policy which will, in particular, help reaching efficiency with better infrastructure and air traffic management and encourage investments in advanced renewable fuels for aviation”. Unlike other sectors, aviation has currently no other alternative to liquid fuel. However, sustainable alternative fuels could provide up to 80% reduction in overall CO2 lifecycle emissions compared to fossil fuels. Mr Gill therefore stated that it is important that in the development and allocation of alternative fuels, special attention is given to aviation.

Luc Lallouette, Thalès SESAR Programme Director, reiterated that environmental protection in aviation is a top priority for industry. “In addition to a global measure and sustainable alternative fuels as crucial short to mid-term measures, efficiency improvements and technologies are the key drivers for the reduction of emissions” said Mr Lallouette. He added “thanks to the crucial contribution of EU aviation research programs such as CleanSky and SESAR, the aviation industry is on track to reach the ambitious objectives set by the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE) Flightpath 2050: 75% reduction in CO2 per passenger km, 90% reduction Nox and 65% noise reduction, relative to the performance of a new aircraft in 2000”. ATM plays a very important role in addressing climate change by enabling greener and more efficient routes through a more integrated and digital airspace – which is crucial particularly in light of the expected traffic growth. Together, CleanSky and SESAR constitute almost 50% of the efforts required to reach the ACARE goals with regard to CO2 emissions. Mr Lallouette therefore called on European policy makers to continue their efforts in this sector through successful research programmes.

Following a number of interventions by among others MEPs Peter Liese, Julie Girling, Jacqueline Foster, Jakop Dalunde and Christian Ehler, Mrs Hohlmeier concluded by emphasing the European Parliament’s strong commitment towards environment and competitiveness in Europe. Mrs Hohlmeier also strongly advised the Member States that environmental taxes and fees (e.g. fuel and energy taxes) shoud be invested in research and environmental innovation programmes like CleanSky and SESAR.