Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Airlines Told to Go Emissions Free

The world's airlines have been told that they have 50 years to become emissions free. This bold and surprising statement comes not from governments but from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) - the global trade organization representing 250 airlines and 94% of the world's scheduled air traffic. The announcement came yesterday in Vancouver during the IATA annual general meeting.

"Climate change is a real concern for our customers and a political priority for many governments," Mr. Bisignani told 700 delegates, including chief executive officers from airlines around the world.

However, the good will was not without a caveat,

"We have been silent in our success and now we have a reputation crisis," IATA director-general Giovanni Bisignani yesterday. He argued that the airline sector has been unfairly singled out by environmentalists and politicians jumping on the green bandwagon.

In this he is right. Global airline emissions account for a small (but significant) portion of the total worldwide pie - 2% according to most experts. Meanwhile, there is scarcely a week that goes by without new cries of outrage over these slim percentage points. A level of blame that is out of all proportion given that the airline industry chronically faces two of the most volatile and uncertain variables of the modern business world - rising fuel prices and ongoing security concerns.

In the face of these challenges, the IATA is deserving of any kudos it recieves for sucking it up and moving forward a new green vision. If our governments acted with the same forethought, we would be well on our way to solving the global warming problem.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stupid question - Is there any way to make a jet emissions free? Does anyone have a clue how this could be done?

Odiyya said...

Best I can do is qoute the article...

"He said building blocks for a carbon-free future include fuel cell technology, solar-powered aircraft and fuel made from biomass plant material, vegetation or agricultural waste used as a fuel or energy source."

also,

"Building a zero-emissions aircraft in the next 50 years, with the U.S., Europe, Canada, China, Brazil, Russia and Japan coordinating their research."

anyone else?

E. R. Dunhill said...

Odiyya and anon,
Also, consider the outlandishly hip scramjet. This is a hydrogen-powered engine that (if I recall correctly from freshman mechanics) produces thrust by forcing the hydrogen through an aperture under such pressure that it combusts. The exhaust is water. Of course, there potentially are hidden carbon-costs in how the engine and the fuel are produced.

-erd

Odiyya said...

interesting. Is that something being proposed for commercial jets? And do you have a link on the specs?