The global aviation industry and countries around the world are finding more common ground to set goals to battle long-term climate change, the head of the International Air Transport Association said Saturday.
Late Friday, the International Civil Aviation Organization, a body representing nearly 200 countries on aviation issues, for the first time issued a declaration with targets for cutting the amount of harmful emissions that the aviation industry puts into the air.
In a conference call from Montreal, IATA Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani said the results were better than he had expected when the diverse group began its meeting Thursday, although there is still a gap in the goals of industry and governments.
The civil-aviation organization said Friday that it wants the aviation industry to achieve annual average aircraft fuel efficiency of 2% per year to 2020, with an "aspirational goal" of an additional 2% annual improvement through 2050.
In 2007, IATA had announced its current goal for 1.5% fuel-efficiency improvement to 2020, with carbon-neutral growth after that, leading to a 50% net reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, as compared to 2005 emissions.
There is nothing aspirational about the plan by IATA, Mr. Bisignani said. All industry players -- including the airline members of IATA, aircraft manufacturers, airports and navigation organizations -- have agreed that the technology exists now to meet the stated targets.
Mr. Bisignani said the aviation industry is unique among businesses because it has set tough global climate-change standards for itself ahead of government decisions. He plans to meet Monday with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to press the IATA agenda. "Our industry can be a role model for other industries to follow," he said.
Mr. Bisignani said the declaration by the civil-aviation group will help form a framework for discussions at the U.N.'s meeting on climate control in Copenhagen in December.
Governments world-wide can help make greater cuts in emissions by encouraging development of biofuels and updating air traffic systems, he said. There is proven technology for biofuels that produce less harmful emissions and save energy resources. So far, however, there haven't been any government incentives to spur production.
Global standards for emissions reduction are difficult for countries to agree on. Mr. Bisignani said it is important to give countries enough time to meet their goals.
By Ann Keeton