Lonely Planet Writer

Airline industry backs plan to reduce greenhouse gases

A new drive to support the UN’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases emitted by the aviation industry has come from the CEO of the International Airlines Group (IAG), Willie Walsh.

Emission from aircraft responsible for 50%
Aircraft are responsible for 50% for all carbon dioxide emissions in the USA Image by Dennis / CC BY-SA 2.0

Urging both governments and airlines to row in behind the new move, Mr Walsh is also seeking backing for a call by a UN specialised agency – the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) – to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emission on a worldwide scale.

British Airways boss Willie Walsh wants all aircraft to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions
British Airways boss Willie Walsh wants all aircraft to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, saying the aviation industry must grasp their opportunity now Image by David Kernan / CC BY 2.0

Recently, easyJet announced that it planned to test the world’s first water-powered hydrogen hybrid planes later this year while also revealing that it would cut back by 7% on its  current carbon emission of 81.5 grams per passenger kilometre.

EasyJet increases connections to Iceland. Image by RHL Images / CC BY-SA 2.0.
EasyJet is planning to test the world’s first water-powered hydrogen hybrid planes to cut CO2 emissions Image by RHL Images / CC BY-SA 2.0

IAG, which includes British Airways, said it also hoped to cut emissions by 8.5%, while other carriers in the group – Aer Lingus in Ireland and Iberia and Vueling in Spain – are aiming to reduce their carbon footprint from last year’s level of 95.4 grams to 87.3 grams per passenger to kilometre within four years.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Mr Walsh hopes to present a blueprint for international cuts when ICAO holds a meeting of aviation minister from leading countries in October. The IAG spearhead however believes that if the industry is to halve CO2 releases by 2050, it will required governments to support ICAO’s plan.

In the USA, which according to the New York Times is responsible for 50% of all carbon dioxide emissions from planes, efforts to cut back has been high on President Obama’s agenda on the environment.

As many as 3.8 billion people will use air travel in 2016 – which is fifty times more than half a century ago. This incredible growth in the industry makes planes the fastest growing source of such emissions.

And while limit were set for cars and trucks, none were applied to airplanes. However last week, all that changed as the ICAO finally produced proposals that could be the first binding limits on aircraft emissions

Mr Walsh said this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to establish an effective global scheme for all concerned. “We must grasp that opportuntiy now,” he stressed.