The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on Asia to play a leadership role in driving the aviation industry towards carbon neutral growth leading to a zero-emission industry. Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO imparted this message at the Greener Skies for Asia 2008 conference in Hong Kong.
By 2010 Asia will be the largest single market for aviation. With size comes leadership responsibility. And that includes environment issues.
My focus is on reducing carbon emissions. And reducing fuel burn is at the heart of the issue. Every litre of fuel we can save reduces CO2 emissions by over 3 kilograms. By shortening routes, improving air traffic management and spreading best practice in fuel conservation IATA helped save up to 25 million tonnes of CO2 in the last two years.
Bisignani identified three opportunities for Asian leadership:
- Communications: Asia must avoid the mistakes we made in Europe by communicating clearly aviation’s good track record on the environment, as well as a relevant and clear vision to governments and the general public.
- Air Traffic Management: Asia has an opportunity become a model of best practice in air traffic management. Last year the APEC Transport Ministers announced a plan to improve air traffic efficiency that is completely aligned with the industry’s strategy. The region has a head-start with a modern fleet. Now we must drive improvements in air traffic management by harmonising across the region and maximising the capabilities of modern aircraft to set a benchmark of efficiency for others to follow.
- Technology Investments: Asia’s airlines are investing billions in the most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft available. Governments must also play a role in driving this further with coordinated basic research into future technologies – including alternative fuels – to further improve aviation’s strong environmental track record. Asia’s enormous sovereign wealth funds could make an important contribution with some innovative investments.