3E Intelligence

Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Monday 4 June that the air industry needs to develop zero-carbon airplanes within the next fifty years (see Financial Times or read Mr Bisignani’s full speech in Vancouver). His call for a technological revolution in the air industry comes as aviation is increasingly being seen as one of the main culprits of the growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

Although airplanes have become much more fuel-efficient and more environmentally-friendly over the last ten years, the enormous growth of air travel has made the sector one of the fastest growing sources of GHG emission. The European Commission has therefore started a process which is supposed to integrate the aviation sector into the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Mr Bisignani also hit out at the “schizophrenic” and “irresponsible” policies of governments saying that Europe is “dragging its feet” over the “Single European Sky” (a more harmonised and efficient traffic management system) which could save up to 12 million tonnes of CO2.

More reading on this issue:

This year’s EU Green Week will devote a special session to the debate on aviation and climate change, moderated by yours truly. See the programme for Thursday 14 June.

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  1. Is talk about zero-carbon aircraft is a bit intellectually dishonest? Biofuels can reduce carbon emissions, provided that deforestation can be avoided. But even then, the processing of biomass into fuel in energy intensive. The facilities to do so embody a lot of energy, as do the airplanes that finally consume them. One could go even further, taking into account passenger transportation to & from the airport and the energy to run an airport. Carbon neutrality is a matter of boundaries – looking at the earth’s carbon balance, there are a lot of streams to play around with.

    I like the Boeing paper which gives a good overview and very sensible roadmap.

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