Environmentalists Say More Needs To Be Done
With Earth Day 2008 now in the history books, the global airline
industry continues to take steps to mitigate its impact on the
environment. But while nearly everyone agrees progress must be
made, things get cloudier when talking about what, exactly, needs
to be done.
As ANN reported this week,
Boeing and Airbus were among the signers of an industry-wide
agreement to develop new technologies to make airline travel more
efficient, and "carbon-neutral." Other signatories to the deal
included enginemakers General Electric and Rolls-Royce, and the
industry trade group International Air Transport Association,
reports The Associated Press.
While applauding the fact that some action is being taken,
environmentalists repeated their oft-told statements the global air
transport industry continues to fall short.
"What we urgently need is a commitment to real, aggressive
targets to increase efficiency and ultimately to stabilize and
reduce emissions," said James Leape, director-general of the World
Wildlife Fund. "I don't yet see the urgency among industry leaders
that we're going to need."
In addition to the obvious PR-benefits to having such terms as
"airliner" and "environment" making headlines in a positive light,
US companies also have an economic impetus to work together to
reduce their carbon footprint -- so they may avoid have the kind of
emissions trading schemes seen in Europe, from crossing the
"Europe's unilateral approach will only lead to legal battles
and trade wars," noted IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani, adding other
countries like China are also opposed to the emissions caps the
European Union wants to begin imposing on all carriers flying
within the EU by 2011. US carriers would be hit with those fees a
Most scientists believe airlines are responsible for about two
percent of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse
gas, but differ on their opinions about the impact of other gases
like water vapor, and nitrogen oxide.
"It's like comparing apples and oranges," said Cambridge
University senior researcher Helen Rogers, about the difficulty of
placing a target limit on those emissions for the purposes of
assigning taxable limits.
Former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey -- now head of the
Aerospace Industries Association -- notes airlines have already
made significant accomplishments towards reducing their impact on
the global environment. "There is no other industry that in only a
couple of decades dropped its fuel usage by 70 percent," she told