The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced at a recent board meeting that it would achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020 through a combination of investment in technology, biofuels and economic measures such as carbon trading, reports Reuters. Airlines also project that carbon trading will cost the industry about $7 billion from 2020, based on a carbon price of $65 a metric ton in 2020.
These plans add to the financial crisis currently faced by the airlines industry. IATA, representing 230 airlines, estimates a $9 billion loss for the airline industry in 2009 on top of a revised loss of $10.4 billion in 2008, reports Space Daily. The organization also said that the industry spent $165 billion on fuel in 2008, representing 31 percent of costs.
IATA also restated the industry’s previous environmental goals to cut absolute emissions by 50 percent by 2050, and improve average fuel efficiency 1.5 percent annually between now and 2020, reports Guardian News.
At the same meeting, carriers also said they were against a global tax on fares to raise money that would help developing countries adapt to climate change but they want to be part of the Copenhagan climate negotiations in December, reports the Guardian.
Critics are raising doubts about the industry’s environmental pledges. The 2020 carbon neutral growth goal, for example, only covers growth in airlines’ emissions not their existing emissions, which account for around 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, and it’s unclear whether the carbon neutral growth from 2020 will be achieved through more efficient aircraft and operations, or carbon offsetting, reports the Guardian.
Despite what critics are saying, carriers are moving ahead with technologies that reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
U.S. carrier American Airlines, for example, plans to test new-generation technology designed to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions on its Paris-to-Miami flight, reports Xinhua News Agency.
American Airlines said fuel-saving measures have helped it save more than 110 million gallons of fuel annually and reduced its carbon emissions by 2.3 billion pounds in 2008. It aims to save 120 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon emissions by 2.5 billion pounds in 2009.
The initiative is part of operational and new-technology measures that are being tested by the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE), which is a partnership among the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Commission and several airlines.