Embattled Airlines Plot Carbon Flight Path to "Destinaton Zero"
Delegates were told that commercial aviation is responsible for about 2% of carbon emissions globally. Manufacturing and motor vehicles produce much more. However, newspaper headlines in Europe such as, “Travel: The New Tobacco", “Announcement: Your Flight to Malaga is Destroying the Planet" have become hysterical. Aviation may be about to be punished unfairly.
Speaking for the airline industry, Tony Tyler, the CEO of Cathay Pacific, admitted that a few years ago, complacency was a problem. “Airline leaders thought, 'We're at 2%. No one is going to have a go at us.' We were complacent about the PR aspects and now we're regretting that we've become the poster boys of international evil….We do feel under pressure from the media and governments, especially in Europe."
Addressing the problem, Paul Steele, IATA's Environment Director and a former World Wildlife Fund campaigner, said that in the last 40 years, the airline industry had eliminated soot emissions, reduced noise by 75% and increased fuel efficiencies by 70%. Airlines aim to increase fuel efficiency by another 25% by 2020.
He said airlines were fighting back with an aggressive new strategy of carbon-neutral growth. Since 2007 airlines have had an official agenda to use new technologies such as cleaner fuels, optimize fuel efficiencies, make air routes shorter and more efficient through punctuality and use “positive economic instruments" to reduce CO2 emissions.
While the panellists in the “Sharing the Airline Burden" session said that the travel industry prefers fiscal incentives from governments to drive the carbon reduction agenda, it fears a knee-jerk taxation response from governments. “The diametrically incorrect response form governments will happen, “predicted Kenny Boyle, commercial and marketing services director of VisitBritain. “And then investments that we've seen into biofuels from Virgin and others could suffer."
The travel industry is also divided on sharing the CO2 burden. The World Tourism Organization, recommends a “differential response" between rich and poor countries. IATA says 'ring fencing' certain air routes, for example, to or within, poor countries, and exempting them from carbon reduction standards would be impractical.
Speakers called for a standardization of green audit and benchmarking programs. While such programs were well intentioned, they caused confusion within the travel industry and with consumers.
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Founded in 1951, PATA is the recognised authority on Asia Pacific travel and tourism. PATA provides leadership and advocacy to the collective efforts of nearly 100 government, state and city tourism bodies, more than 55 airlines and cruise lines, and hundreds oftravel industry companies. In addition, thousands of travel professionals belong to dozens of PATA chapters worldwide. PATA is a not-for-profit organisation.
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### Editor's Note: Please find the full PATA CEO Challenge programme, including profiles of many of the speakers and panelists, at www.ceochallenge.PATA.org. View Dr Pachauri's keynote video message at www.ceochallenge.PATA.org/blog. See the Challenge webcast at www.travelmole.com/liveatthemole.php. Tips from the T-List is blogging about the event at http://tfttl.blogspot.com. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:- Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Marketing Communications, David Gillbanks Tel: + 662 658 2000 Email: david@PATA.org