Monday, August 12, 2019

Freight and Passenger Air Carriage Must Work to Reduce Impact on Climate

German Industry Initiatives to Cut Emissions
Shipping News Feature
GERMANY – WORLDWIDE – One of the biggest things in the minds of freight and passenger air carriers alike is undoubtedly climate change, and what the industry can do to mitigate this. Unlike road, rail and ocean travel the opportunities for revolutionary motive units powered in vastly different ways and using different fuel sources are, currently at least, extremely limited.

To compensate for this the industry needs to not only adapt to ensure it is as green as technologically possible, but also to keep the public aware of the efforts it is making to progress towards ever lower emissions.

With this in mind the Board of Airline Representatives in Germany (BARIG), the mutual representation of interests of more than 100 airlines in Germany, has welcomed the proposals for improved climate protection presented last Friday by the German Aviation Association (BDL). Besides just national airlines, BARIG’s membership also contains international airlines that operate flights from and to Germany, and Secretary General Michael Hoppe, commented:

“The airlines take climate protection very seriously since long ago and have been contributing substantial financial efforts in this field for many years. While the individual airlines are making investments in multiple areas to promote measures for the protection of climate and environment, the international aviation industry also participates in the European Union’s emissions trade system EU ETS since 2012.

”Almost 80 states, including the EU member states, have committed to the introduction of the worldwide system CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) as of 2021 in order to support climate protection projects with billions of euros and to reduce emissions drastically. We thus highly appreciate the addition of both sustainable and effective suggestions to our air traffic industry’s efforts.

“With the measures and suggestions described in the six-point paper, the air traffic industry makes a significant contribution to climate protection. In order for this initiative to succeed, targeted and coordinated support of politics on the national level but also in the European and worldwide context is required to provide the respectively needed framework for further climate protection. We have a very clear vision of what can be done and we are thus open to close exchange with politics so we can make a difference together.”

The offsetting element of the CORSIA scheme has met with criticism in the past, but elements within it are universally accepted as worthwhile measures. The six principal BDL proposals to reduce the impact of the industry on the environment include the following:

  • Enable reduction of CO2 emissions related to air traffic:- This shall be achieved, inter alia, through the replacement of fossil kerosene with renewable fuels, for example by using the ‘power-to-liquid’ procedure which is currently viewed as the most suitable option in an ecological sense. Here politics are also called upon, for example regarding the construction of respective production plants. Furthermore, the billion-scale revenues from the German air traffic tax should be incorporated in this area in an effective way.
  • Compensation of flights’ climate impact:- Although the possibility to compensate the climate impact of flights at a surcharge already exists today, this offer is currently used only by a few passengers. Additional and new incentives such as tax deductibility need to be created here.
  • Reducing CO2 emissions in European air space:- The urgently required development of a ‘Single European Sky’ would also substantially contribute to climate protection. A Europe-wide optimisation of flight routes allows for the saving of around 10% of fuel and emissions. European politics is required to take action here.
  • Investments in energy-efficient air traffic:- The airlines aim to continue and intensify their investments into energy-efficient aircraft, for example by purchasing innovative aircraft. Manufacturers of aircraft and engines need to be involved here, too. Today already, German airlines for example consume only 3.58 litres per 100 passenger kilometres on average which is significantly less compared to the figure of 6.3 litres in 1990.
  • Strengthen the railway network for enhanced intermodality:- Even though the share of German domestic air traffic in the total of German CO2 emissions is only 0.3% at the moment, more traffic could still be shifted to rail. However, this requires an improvement of infrastructure so that passengers can reach their international flights on time and business travellers arrive at their meetings. In this context, long-distance rail connectivity at major hubs is an indispensable target and must be urgently implemented, for example in Munich.
  • Climate protection must be coordinated internationally:- National solo efforts in the primarily international air traffic business are the absolutely wrong approach since they merely lead to a shift of transport operations, thereby sometimes even increasing CO2 emissions. Instead, cross-border and competitively neutral solutions such as emissions trade must be supported. CORSIA is an important tool. However, international politics are called upon to convince hesitant countries of this system.